Virginia has now ended the COVID-19-era penalties and fines. Some of those who were unfairly hit may soon be reimbursed.
Republican Governor. Glenn Youngkin stated earlier this week that, while Virginia’s Democratic predecessor cannot be undone and the damage they have done to the state, he is still “taking action” to end COVID’s draconian excesses.
What about the details?
On Tuesday, the governor, who was elected in January, issued an executive directive “to review the disciplinary action taken against private individuals and businesses purportedly as part of the public health emergency relating to COVID-19.”
Youngkin pointed out in his order, that recovering from the pandemic virus for many Virginians doesn’t necessarily mean bouncing back from it but following “guidelines” during the public health emergency.
Virginia businesses were banned from allowing access, service or entry to their premises by the state. This put their existence in danger. The order stated that individuals were forbidden from working or carrying out important daily activities.
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Youngkin has directed state agencies to report any penalties or fines imposed by the former Democratic Governor. Ralph Northam’s administration was unable to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.
These reports will be used to “review all such discipline actions and make recommendations for the Governor regarding what, if any, corrective action could be taken under law.”
Youngkin stated Tuesday that it was infuriating that businesses continue to deal with COVID-19-related penalties and fines. The consequences are threatening our lives.
The fury could have come to an end after Matt Strickland, a veteran restaurateur, had his restaurant raided on Friday.
Appointees from Northam were elected to the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority board. The agency was authorized to continue imposing penalties for noncompliance with COVID-19.
Agents raided Strickland’s restaurant Gourmeltz and executed a search warrant for sales records and information regarding “possession of alcohol beverages without a licence, maintaining a nuisance and the illegal selling of alcoholic drinks.”
Strickland stated Monday that the COVID mandates were more concerned with control than safety and health.
Youngkin stated, “In the prior administration, we saw government close down our businesses, close our schools and seperate us from one another.” We can’t undo what was done by the Northam administration. However, we will take steps to reverse the draconian excesses of the COVID-era.
“I look forward working with the General Assembly on this, forgiving COVID fines, fees, and restoring licenses that were unfairly suspended,” said the governor.
Northam’s COVID program
Northam advised Virginians in March 2020 to avoid “non-essential gatherings”, which can include more than 10 people.
All restaurants, gyms, and theaters were required to reduce their capacity to 10 patrons, or close down, regardless of whether or not it would cause destitution for their owners or employees.
This prohibition was not applicable to grocery stores or other services, but it did not apply to churches.
Lighthouse Fellowship Church of Chincoteague filed suit months later alleging Northam violated Christians’ religious liberty after Northam issued a criminal conviction for the pastor of the church for having 16 persons at a Palm Sunday service. This was in violation of Northam’s edict. The church was ultimately supported by the Department of Justice.
National Review reported that Northam started blaming Virginia’s spread of the virus on religious congregations, which he said had not adhered to Democrat health guidelines.
Virginians had to wear masks in public indoor spaces, which was in addition to the business-killing restrictions.
Northam’s mandate to use a mask went into effect on May 29, and was extended over time so that all residents over five years old had to follow his lead.
Athletics and academics were significantly affected by the prohibition on gatherings and mask requirements.
The Virginia Department of Health imposed curfews on alcohol sales and COVID-19 violations were made enforceable as Class One misdemeanors by the Department of Health.
Retailers who break the governor’s orders face additional misdemeanor and severe penalties as well as jail time.
Revert to normal
Youngkin signed an executive order making it optional for schools to use masks after he took office in January.
Youngkin was able to put a lot of heat into his decision to prioritize freedom over safety illusions.
Nicole Haley, of Coronavirus War Room (a leftist activist group that advocated for vaccine mandates and mask mandates), stated in January that “From ending vaccine requirements, to his’masks-off’ order, Governor Youngkin has already lost support due to his antiscience policies that prolong this pandemic.”
Youngkin responded by saying that he was not banning masks, but rather restoring Virginians’ freedom to choose whether or not a mask is appropriate for them and their families.
The governor also terminated Northam’s mandate for vaccines for state employees, and called for the Defense Department to end the mandate for coronavirus vaccines for Army National Guard members. This was reported by The Hill.