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Governor Northam delays Phase One for Northern Virginia localities

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Governor Ralph Northam today issued Executive Order Sixty-Two, allowing specific localities in Northern Virginia to delay entering Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease restrictions on certain business operations that were put in place in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Governor Northam has said that Virginia as a whole may enter Phase One on Friday, May 15, as outlined in Executive Order Sixty-One, based on achieving certain health metrics. Executive Order Sixty-Two allows the Northern Virginia localities to delay implementation of Phase One until midnight on Thursday, May 28, to allow those localities more time to meet the health metrics.

In conjunction with this executive order, Governor Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA also issued Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four.

“As I have said, it’s important that the Commonwealth as a whole can meet key health metrics before moving into Phase One,” said Governor Northam. “The Phase One policies are a floor, not a ceiling. While the data show Virginia as a whole is are ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia. I support the request from localities in this region to delay implementation of Phase One to protect public health.”

Governor Northam had directed jurisdictions to formally request approval to remain in Phase Zero. Executive Order Sixty-Two allows the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) to remain in Phase Zero, as requested by officials in those localities.

Data show that Northern Virginia is substantially higher than the rest of the Commonwealth in the percentage of positive tests for COVID-19, for example. The Northern Virginia Region has about a 25 percent positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10 percent. Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70 percent of the Commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four is below:

NUMBER SIXTY-TWO (2020) AND ORDER OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY FOUR JURISDICTIONS TEMPORARILY DELAYED FROM ENTERING PHASE ONE IN EXECUTIVE ORDER 61 AND PERMITTED TO REMAIN IN PHASE ZERO NORTHERN VIRGINIA REGION

Importance of the Issue
Executive Order 61, issued on May 8, 2020, and effective at 12:00 a.m., May 15, 2020, eased certain restrictions imposed under Second Amended Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55 (both Orders are collectively referred to as Phase Zero). Executive Order 61 sets out the Commonwealth of Virginia’s path into Phase One. The easing of the Phase Zero restrictions was premised, in part, on the Commonwealth’s achievement of certain metrics in responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The easing of those restrictions is meant to be a floor, and not a ceiling. As previously acknowledged, some regions may need to move into Phase One more slowly than the rest of the Commonwealth. Prior to issuing Executive Order 61, I advised that any locality unready to move into Phase One, upon my review and approval of their request to remain in Phase Zero, could do so.

On May 9, 2020, local officials from the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, as well as the Towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) requested to remain in Phase Zero. Data provided in connection with that request reveals that with respect to hospitalizations, percent positivity, and case numbers, the Northern Virginia Region faces unique challenges when compared to the rest of the Commonwealth. The Northern Virginia Region is substantially higher than the rest of the Commonwealth in the percentage of positive tests for COVID-19. The Northern Virginia Region has about a 25% positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10%. Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70% of the Commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region.

In addition, while personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals appears to be adequate at this time, the Northern Virginia Region asserts PPE for outpatient facilities continues to be a challenge. Similarly, although the number of deaths in the Northern Virginia Region appears to be trending downward, COVID-19 patients in the Northern Virginia Region make up a significantly larger portion of the region’s hospital bed capacity, when compared to COVID hospitalizations in the rest of the Commonwealth. Consequently, after considering the Northern Virginia Region’s request and the relevant data, I find the request to delay entering Phase One and to remain in Phase Zero appropriate.

Directive
Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article V of the Constitution of Virginia, by § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia, by any other applicable law, and in furtherance of Executive Order 51, and by virtue of the authority vested in the State Health Commissioner pursuant to §§ 32.1-13, 32.1-20, and 35.1-10 of the Code of Virginia, I grant the Northern Virginia Region’s request to remain in Phase Zero. Accordingly, as to the Northern Virginia Region, the following measures are extended effective 12:00 a.m. Friday, May 15, 2020:

1. Continued closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets. Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers’ markets may continue to offer delivery and take-out services.

2. Continued closure of all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses, as set forth below:

a. Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
b. Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities;
c. Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with physical distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;
d. Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities; and
e. Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

3. Essential retail businesses may remain open during their normal business hours. Such businesses are:

a. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
b. Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
c. Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
d. Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
e. Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
f. Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
g. Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
h. Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
i. Retail located within healthcare facilities;
j. Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
k. Pet and feed stores;
l. Printing and office supply stores; and
m. Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Employers are required to provide face coverings to employees.

4. Any brick and mortar retail business not listed in paragraph 3 may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10 patron limit with proper physical distancing requirements, it must close. Brick and mortar retail business not listed in paragraph 3 are encouraged to follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors as best practices linked here.

5. All businesses are encouraged to follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors as best practices linked here and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities while in operation.

6. Although business operations offering professional rather than retail services may remain open, they should utilize teleworking as much as possible. Where telework is not feasible, such a business must adhere to physical distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and apply the relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

7. All individuals in Northern Virginia Region shall remain at their place of residence, except as provided below by this Order. To the extent individuals use shared or outdoor spaces, whether on land or on water, they must at all times maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from any other person, with the exception of family members, as defined below, or caretakers. Individuals may leave their residences for the purpose of:

a. Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services as permitted in this Order;
b. Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services;
c. Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family member;
d. Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care;
e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with physical distancing requirements;
f. Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work;
g. Traveling to and from an educational institution;
h. Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services; and
i. Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency.

8. All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited. The presence of more than 10 individuals performing functions of their employment is not a “gathering.” A “gathering” includes, but is not limed to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This restriction does not apply to the gathering of family members living in the same residence. “Family members” include blood relations, adopted, step, and foster relations, as well as all individuals residing in the same household. Family members are not required to maintain physical distancing while in their homes.

9. Continued cessation of all in-person instruction at K-12 schools, public and private, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Facilities providing child care services may remain open.

10. Institutions of higher education shall continue to cease all in-person classes and instruction, and cancel all gatherings of more than ten individuals. For purposes of facilitating remote learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, institutions of higher education may continue to operate, provided that physical distancing requirements are maintained.

11. Continued cessation of all reservations for overnight stays of less than 14 nights at all privately-owned campgrounds, as defined in § 35.1-1 of the Code of Virginia.

12. Continued closure of all public beaches as defined in § 10.1-705 of the Code of Virginia for all activity, except exercising and fishing. Physical distancing requirements must be followed.

13. Nothing in this Order shall limit:

(a) the provision of health care or medical services;
(b) access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; (c) the operations of the media; (d) law enforcement agencies; or (e) the operation of government.
14. The continued waiver of § 18.2-422 of the Code of Virginia so as to allow the wearing of a medical mask, respirator, or any other protective face covering for the purpose of facilitating the protection of one’s personal health in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency declared by the State Health Commissioner on February 7, 2020, and reflected in Executive Order 51 declaring a state of emergency in the Commonwealth. Executive Order 51 is so further amended. This waiver is effective as of March 12, 2020. Violation of paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12 of this Order shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia. The Northern Virginia Region’s entrance into Phase One will be delayed and the restrictions above shall remain in place until 11:59 p.m., May 28, 2020.

Effective Date of this Executive Order
This Order shall be effective 12:00 a.m., Friday, May 15, 2020 and further amends Executive Order 55. Unless otherwise expressly provided herein, this Order shall remain in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m., Thursday, May 28, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Seal of the Office of the State Health Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 12th day of May, 2020.

Ralph S. Northam, Governor
______________________________________
M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA
State Health Commissioner
Attest:
Kelly Thomasson, Secretary of the Commonwealth

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Randolph-Macon Academy hosts virtual graduation Saturday

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RADM John Stufflebeem, R-MA Class of 1970 and the graduation guest speaker for the Class of 2020.

Randolph-Macon Academy’s 56 soon-to-be-graduates successfully navigated a rapid transition to online learning in March. Now, having earned a combined total of 211 college acceptances and over $5.2 million in college scholarship offers, they are about to celebrate their graduation online and on time. R-MA’s graduation was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 30th, and the Academy is able to adhere to that date thanks to the quick pivot to online learning in mid-March.

The guest speaker for the event is Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, USN, Retired, a 1970 graduate of Randolph-Macon Academy, and the Chairman of the R-MA Board of Trustees.

During his Naval career, Rear Adm. Stufflebeem commanded Fighter Squadron 84 and Carrier Air Wing 1 during combat operations in the Balkans and Persian Gulf and Carrier Group 2/Task Force 60 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His assignment prior to returning to Washington was Commander 6th Fleet, Deputy Commander Naval Forces Europe, Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe, Commander Strike and Support Forces NATO, and Allied Commander Joint Command Lisbon.

Additionally, Rear Adm. Stufflebeem served in staff assignments including Military Aide to President George H.W. Bush, Deputy Executive Assistant and later, Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations. His first assignment as a flag officer was Deputy Director for Global Operations (J-3) on the Joint Staff during Operation Enduring Freedom. Subsequent to Operation Iraqi Freedom he was the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy.

Stufflebeem is now an independent consultant and sole proprietor of the NJS Group LLC, a strategic and crisis communications consulting firm in Alexandria, VA, established after he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2008. He is also a life member of the National Football League Players Association, having played football for the Detroit Lions in the late 1970s.

All of R-MA’s end-of-year events will be released via YouTube Premiere, culminating with the Graduation Ceremony on May 30th. YouTube Premiere will allow students, families, faculty and staff to watch the event as if it were live, and “chat” with each other as the video plays. The Graduation Ceremony Premiere will begin at 9:15am, with a series of tributes to the seniors from their teachers, parents, and even local businesses. The graduation ceremony itself will begin playing at 10:00am.

In addition to Stufflebeem, the Class of 2020 will hear from their Salutatorian and Valedictorian during the end-of-year ceremonies. Class Night on May 28th will feature Salutatorian Jonathan Bunker of Berryville, VA. Bunker is the third member of his family to graduate from R-MA and the second to earn Salutatorian honors. He has been a member of the R-MA Virginia State Championship Drill Team and is the Vice President of the Senior Class.

The Commencement audience on May 30th will hear from R-MA Valedictorian Benjamin Kopjanski of Boston, VA. Kopjanski holds the second-highest position in the Academy’s Air Force Junior ROTC program, and was recently recognized as the Top Cadet in the Nation by the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the U.S. He was also a member of the Academy’s championship drill team.

“We are incredibly proud of our graduates, and though we wish we could be together physically to celebrate their accomplishments, we are pleased to be able to offer this virtual way to celebrate together,” said R-MA President Brigadier General David C. Wesley, USAF, Retired. Wesley served in the Air Force for 26 years, most recently as the Staff Judge Advocate for Headquarters Air Force Material Command; his service also included time as an instructor at and the Commandant of the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. He has been Randolph-Macon Academy’s president since 2015.

The Class of 2020 college acceptances included prestigious universities such as University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, Duke University, Case Western University, Drexel University, Fordham University, George Mason University, James Madison University, New York University, Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of British Columbia, University of Virginia, University of Sydney and Virginia Tech. In addition, the eight postgraduate Falcon Scholars of 2020 all earned appointments to the Air Force Academy.

To access the YouTube Premiere videos, visit R-MA’s YouTube channel.


Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12. Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and have the opportunity to learn to fly through a unique flight program. The Academy, which is one of only six Falcon Foundation Schools in the U.S., also offers several summer programs. R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, VA.

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Downtown Rebound – Week 2

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Once again the Town of Front Royal and specifically Family Fun Day, Inc. is excited to announce ‘Downtown Rebound’ – a plan to assist our beloved downtown businesses while adhering to safety guidelines, and mandates set forth by Phase One of the Governor’s “Virginia Forward” re-opening plan.

During this time, downtown businesses and restaurants will be able to expand their services, displays, and seating areas onto the sidewalks and Main Street.  Additionally, the Royal Cinema will be showing an outdoor movie at 8:30 PM on Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.

There will be a temporary vehicular road closure of Main Street, Kidd Lane, and part of Chester beginning Friday, May 29, at 4:30 P.M. and ending on Monday, June 1, at 7 A.M. Parking will be available at the Gazebo entering from Virginia Hale Blvd only.

This is not a festival, but it is an opportunity for citizens to get out and visit our restaurants and businesses throughout Front Royal.  All citizens are expected to maintain six feet social distancing and follow other guidelines as directed by Governor Northam’s Executive Orders.  Restaurants may provide additional guidance as well.

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Warren County Habitat for Humanity moves to new office and resumes Repair Program

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Warren County Habitat for Humanity (WCHFH) will open in their new office located at 109 Water Street, in Front Royal, on June 1, 2020. Beginning June 1, the office will be open by appointment only. Normal office hours (Mon-Fri, 10-2) will resume June 15. The Habitat office will have hand sanitizer and masks available for clients and visitors.

“The Board is excited to be moving to this new space. The location will allow for better visibility and access for our current and future clients and partners.” According to Amanda Slate, WCHFH Board President.

Due to COVID-19 risks and in keeping with guidelines from Habitat International and the state government, Warren County Habitat for Humanity had suspended much of its activity and closed its office on March 31. With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions through Governor Northam’s Forward Virginia Plan, WCHFH will begin implementing plans to reopen its office and resume programming. To see the full reopening plan, click here.

Applications for the WCHFH Home Repair Programs will be accepted from June 1-15. Work on new repairs should begin late July to early August, following stringent safety and health precautions. Warren County Habitat for Humanity offers home repairs with affordable financing to qualified homeowners living in Warren County, Virginia. The homeowner must be a full-time resident of the home and meet income guidelines below 60% of AMI. Mortgage, property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance accounts must be current. This program is not available to landlords, tenants, land contract holders, or trailer home residents. For more information on the home repair program and to complete the eligibility questionnaire, click here.

For more information about Habitat’s home repair program or to schedule an appointment, contact Jessica Priest-Cahill, WCHFH Executive Director, at (540)551-3232 or jessica@warrencountyhabitat.org.

Founded locally in 1993, Warren County Habitat for Humanity seeks to build homes, community, and hope in Front Royal and Warren County. Habitat for Humanity homes are sold with no profit received. The homes are built utilizing volunteer labor, donated resources, and money from the community. Homeowners must meet three qualifications: willingness to partner; ability to pay; and have a need for decent, affordable, and safe housing. In addition to the Habitat Homeownership Program, WCHFH provides home repair programs for low-income homeowners, homeownership and home maintenance education, and advocacy for local affordable home ownership. To learn more visit www.warrencountyhabitat.org.

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Town looks to expand, revisit success of weekend downtown ‘walking mall’

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Early in its May 26th, post-Memorial Day, Tuesday evening meeting, the Front Royal Town Council got a glowingly positive report on the Memorial Day weekend downtown business re-opening event marked by the closure of a portion of East Main and Chester Streets to vehicular traffic.

Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick began the discussion by lauding the involvement of C&C Frozen Treats proprietor and Family Funday sponsor William Huck for his proactive involvement, including pulling the festival permit to allow the street closings.

C&C Frozen Treats William and Nina Huck, above, were acknowledged for their proactive involvement in making the Memorial Day weekend downtown reopening a big success. And below, East Main was blocked off all the way down to Blue Ridge Ave. at the Main St. Mill. Royal Examiner File Photos/Roger Bianchini

“I think it was a wild success, frankly,” Tederick told council, adding, “I’ve gotten numerous text messages and phone calls from folks, businesses, restaurants sold out of food on Monday. I think it was just a really good event – a lot of citizens seemed to appreciate it.”

Tederick then urged town businesses outside the Historic Downtown area to contact the town manager’s office if they had ideas for “creative outdoor planning” in their areas to help resurrect the local business community from two months of COVID-19 pandemic mandated public health safety shutdowns.

“We’re being as flexible as we legally can be and we’re following the code, we’re following the laws but we’re doing everything we can to assist our local businesses, restaurants, as well as brick and mortar businesses,” Tederick enthused in the wake of the Saturday through Memorial Day Monday downtown event.

See Royal Examiner’s two-pronged photographic report on Saturday’s opening and Monday’s stirring, if brief, Memorial Day event at the Courthouse grounds.

From Saturday, above, as Mountain Trails joins in the East Main St. fun – that tent-covered air mattress looks pretty comfortable; to Monday when Memorial Day ceremonies helped kick off the day’s celebration of sacrifice and our collective survival, Front Royal’s Phase One reopening launch was deemed a popular success.

Tederick then acknowledged an expected new executive order from Governor Ralph Northam’s office requiring the wearing of masks inside the re-opened business and government buildings. Virginia is in the process of moving from the Democratic governor’s Phase One reopening that kicked in Friday to Phase Two expected to launch June 10.

“My opinion, that’s going to come with a whole lot of cost, as well as preparation; and there’s going to be a whole lot of questions as well,” Front Royal’s interim town manager and longtime County Republican Committee officer and operative said, without elaboration on how those “lot of” costs and preparations would be generated from an anticipated mask-wearing order.

Noting his time downtown at about four hours on both Saturday and Monday, Mayor Gene Tewalt said, “The biggest question that I’ve been asked from people that ran their businesses is, are we going to keep doing this on a weekly basis. And I told them I wasn’t sure – that I’d get back with you and the council to see which way you guys want to handle this … It went very well, at least that’s what everybody told me and it was a great event.”

Mayor Tewalt and Interim Town Manage Tederick and families crossed paths while checking out the Saturday kickoff of Front Royal’s Memorial Day weekend pandemic business re-launch.

Gary Gillespie, Lori Cockrell, Chris Holloway, and Letasha Thompson added their positive reviews, and/or the positive reviews of those they had spoken to about the event as council pondered the potential of a regular weekend closing of a portion of the downtown business district to vehicular traffic to facilitate additional customer foot traffic in a walking mall-style downtown.

Vice Mayor Bill Sealock asked about the hours at the Finance Department’s Town Hall drive-thru payment window on Fridays, which would be blocked by the traditional closing of East Main at Royal Avenue. Told by Finance Director B. J. Wilson the window closed at 4:30 p.m., council pondered the possibility of adding Friday evenings to the walking mall concept beginning around 5 p.m.

Town Hall was decorated and wrapped up in a red, while & blue bow this Memorial Day weekend. What colors might it take on if weekend walking mall initiatives continue?

“If the consensus of the council is let’s do it again this weekend, I think the staff and I are prepared to launch if that’s something you’d like to see be done,” Tederick told the council.

Council’s comments appeared to indicate that the positive feedback wasn’t only from the restaurants the outdoor street seating the street closures were designed to help facilitate with social distancing regulations. So, if that feedback is, in fact, broad-based and ongoing, it appears the Town is poised to move forward with a continued weekend, late Friday afternoon to Sunday evening downtown closings. – Get ready to pull some more permits, Huck.

And that with a call out to businesses in other areas of town for some “creative outdoor planning” to jump on the marketing of Front Royal’s Phase One business reopening bandwagon. – But don’t forget your masks and social distancing safeguards as we are likely to have increased visitation from residents from more highly contaminated areas to our east and south.

Also, on Tuesday’s agenda were two items that drew some discussion on the first readings of the two required for final approval. One was an ordinance amendment lowering water and sewer tap-in fees to developers; the other on approval of financial appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2021 Town Budget.

See all these discussions and votes in the linked Royal Examiner virtual meeting recording; and more detail on the two ordinance amendment proposals in forthcoming Royal Examiner stories.

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Governor Northam announces face covering requirement and workplace safety regulations

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~ Face coverings required in public settings starting Friday, May 29 ~

Governor Ralph Northam today, May 26, 2020, signed Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Governor also directed the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.

Governor Northam also signed an amended Executive Order Fifty-One, extending Virginia’s state of emergency declaration.

The new executive order supports previous actions the Governor has taken to respond to COVID-19 in Virginia and ensures workers and consumers are protected as the Commonwealth gradually eases public health restrictions. The Governor’s statewide requirement for wearing face coverings is grounded in science and data, including recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that individuals should wear face coverings in public settings. Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation, and wash hands regularly.

“We are making progress to contain the spread of the COVID-19 and now is not the time for Virginians to get complacent,” said Governor Northam. “Science shows that face coverings are an effective way to prevent transmission of the virus, but wearing them is also a sign of respect. This is about doing the right thing to protect the people around us and keep everyone safe, especially as we continue to slowly lift public health restrictions in our Commonwealth.”

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana. Medical-grade masks and personal protective equipment should be reserved for health care professionals. Under the Governor’s executive order, any person age ten and older must wear a mask or face covering at all times while entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time in the following public settings:

• Personal care and grooming businesses

• Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retailers including grocery stores and pharmacies

• Food and beverage establishments

• Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open

• Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas

• State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services

• Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes

Exemptions to these guidelines include while eating and drinking at a food and beverage establishment; individuals who are exercising; children under the age of two; a person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible; and anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering. Children over the age of two are strongly encouraged to wear a face-covering to the extent possible.

The Governor is also directing the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards for occupational safety that will protect employees from the spread of COVID-19 in their workplaces. These occupational safety standards will require the approval by vote of the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board and must address personal protective equipment, sanitation, record-keeping of incidents, and hazard communication. Upon approval, the Department of Labor and Industry will be able to enforce the standards through civil penalties and business closures.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five is available here.

The text of amended Executive Order Fifty-One is available here.

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LFK Graduates 101 5th graders

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On May 26, 2020, students from LFK Elementary School in Front Royal held their graduation ceremony, drive-in style. Lines of cars started to form about 1:30 pm on the street in front of the school. With the Warren County Sheriff’s Office leading the way, the graduation ceremony began at 2 pm.

Ginger Newton, a 5th-grade teacher at LFK spoke with our publisher Mike McCool about the event.

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