New ordinance sets stricter regulations on mask wearing and in-person gatherings

New ordinance sets stricter regulations on mask wearing and in-person gatherings
Ordinances in Charlottesville and Albemarle County enforce stricter mask requirements and capacity limits for stores and restaurants. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - New regulations in Charlottesville and Albemarle County make masks mandatory in all public spaces, except when people are outside and maintaining six feet of distance, or when eating or drinking.”

“A lot of people are passing away. I’m protecting myself, got my mask on. I wish other people would do that also,” said community member Earl Butler.

However, mask mandates are not new to the commonwealth.

“The governor made that mandatory, so we need to follow our leader,” Butler said.

The county’s ordinance says people who claim they cannot wear a face mask for mental or physical health reasons must provide medical documentation, but the city does not include that exception.

Both ordinances rolled back indoor occupancy of stores and restaurants to 50% capacity, or capped at 50 people if a restaurant does not have an occupancy limit.

Joe McCracken, who’s visiting Charlottesville for the weekend, said the new capacity limits made it difficult to go into different shops and restaurants.

“A cool shop that looks really neat to go to was super hardcore on masks. They were at about six person capacity. I mean, what’s the difference between six and seven? I don’t think it makes a difference, but we left. They lost about another 100 bucks,” McCracken said.

The ordinance also caps all private and public in-person gatherings at 50 people. However, the new rules do not apply to religious exercises, demonstrations, work crews, and K-12 schools and higher education institutions like the University of Virginia.

However, according to an article by the Daily Progress, the push for stricter regulations stemmed from concerns about UVA students returning to the area.

“I walk every morning, that’s my walk to UVA and I see a lot of people with no masks and that’s scary. Myself, I have to protect myself because nobody else has one,” Butler said.

Those who violate the ordinances can be fined hundreds of dollars. Per the county’s ordinance, violators could even be jailed up to one year.

“If anyone is fining me, sending me to jail for not wearing a mask, I think that’s beyond ridiculous,” McCracken said.

The Daily Progress also reported both the county and city are considering hiring vendors to further enforce the stricter guidelines.

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