Northam: VDH and ABC to conduct unannounced visits to businesses to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations

Gov. Northam 07-14-20 COVID-19 press briefing

RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Governor Ralph Northam held a coronavirus briefing Tuesday. He started by saying ‘we are seeing some troubling numbers with COVID-19 cases in some parts of Virginia.”

Gov. Northam says the Virginia Department of Health continues to hire contact tracers, and cases are down in the Northern Virginia region. However, the central Virginia area is seeing an uptick in cases. The Eastern/Tidewater region, though, is now seeing a larger increase in coronavirus cases. Virginia is not seeing spikes like Florida or Texas, but he reminds everyone that we don’t live in a vacuum.

Northam reminded Virginians that we’ve come a long way since March but we can’t let down our guard. He said it will take everyone to move forward safely.

In response to reports of noncompliance with COVID-19 guidelines in Virginia, Northam said he is directing Virginia Department of Health and Virginia ABC teams to conduct unannounced visits to establishments across the state to make sure they are following regulations to slow spread of COVID-19. He said the decision was made after receiving complaints of business owners and customers not being compliant with social distancing regulations and face mask requirements. He said these visits would be statewide with focus on Hampton Roads.

Dr. Norm Oliver says overwhelming majority of Virginians have been doing the right thing. Though, about 500 inspectors will be checking on businesses all over Virginia to make sure they’re enforcing guidelines. He says if they are not following guidelines, then the permits and licenses of violators may be suspended.

Northam is proposing earlier cutoff for alcohol sales, saying the Virginia ABC is working on the details.

He says the state continues to receive shipments of personal protective equipment, and that the supply is stable.

On schools and colleges reopening, Northam said one size does not fit all, and local school boards will be deciding their own reopening plans with recommendations from the Virginia Department of Education.

Northam said 938,559 Virginians have applied for unemployment.

DMV locations are reopening, with 41 reopened so far, but they are by appointment only. The DMV’s are serving 7,000 appointments per day.

Gov. Northam says statewide guidelines were made to flatten the curve. He says regional guidelines may be used due to areas seeing case surges. Northam says he may consider reducing the current allowance of social gatherings of up to 250 people to be reduced down to 50.

Northam says the pandemic has brought a lot of challenges into focus including equity, broadband internet access, and education.

Dr. Oliver says they are making an effort to hire bilingual contact tracers.

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