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Students say protests motivating them to the polls

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Voters are more divided now than they were in the 2016 election, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Many young Virginians believe the passion could translate to the polls on Election Day.

Rickia Sykes, a senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, said that her political views have grown stronger since protests erupted globally in late May. The death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, inspired months of protests.

Sykes said that her political views line up with her faith. She considers herself pro-life, believes in advocating for the working class, and supports law enforcement.

“The protests have shown me we need to keep God first, but it has also shown me that good cops are important to help keep law and order,” Sykes said in a text message. “I do realize that there are bad cops, but in order to make a change, I believe we need to work together with the good cops.”

Sykes said that now she researches politicians more thoroughly before deciding which candidate gets her vote. She looks at voting records to see if they vote in a way that “will help us middle and lower-class families.”

Erik Haugen, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who considers himself a Libertarian, said his political views haven’t changed much since the protests started.

“I just see the stronger push for equality, and I think it’s a good step in our nation so long as it proceeds peacefully,” Haugen said.

Equality is at the center of issues that student voters are concerned about this election. From racial injustice to prison reform to healthcare concerns, many students say they want to enact positive change.

Students have varying opinions on whether the importance of voting has become more significant in recent years. Sykes said that she has always found voting significant, but she believes the importance of it has grown for others. Haugen said that while his political views haven’t changed, he believes voting has become more important in general and especially for the younger generations as tension in the U.S. grows, and protests become more prominent.

Sarah Dowless, a junior at William & Mary in Williamsburg, said that voting has always been important, but the protests have made voting more prominent, “like people encouraging folks to vote and making information about voting accessible, especially among young people.” Dowless said the recent protests have reinforced her progressive beliefs.

“If anything, the protests have only amplified my concern for racial injustice in America and my concern about police brutality,” she said. “It’s a fundamental issue about freedom and it calls into question the very principles on which this country was founded and continues to claim.”

The protests also influenced a host of legislation in the recent special legislative session of the General Assembly that ended last week. Virginia legislators passed numerous bills focused on police and criminal justice reform.

According to the United States Census Bureau, voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds jumped 15.7% between 2014 and 2018. This was the largest percentage point increase for any age group. Turnout is expected to be high this year as well, but there are no final numbers for age groups. Voter registration in Virginia set a record this year with almost 5.9 million voters registering. During the last presidential election a little more than 5.5 million people registered to vote.

Sykes is also concerned about the economy and health care.  She wants a political leader who will increase the odds that people have a stable source of income to afford medical treatment.

“As a graduating senior, I want and need a good-paying/stable job for when I graduate,” she said. “I need someone who will make sure we have a strong and reliable economy.”

Dowless wants U.S. prisons, which she describes as currently being “more punitive than rehabilitative,” to undergo major reform. Haugen would like police academy programs to be longer and implement de-escalation training.

“I first and foremost care about the safety of the American people,” Haugen said.

Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting are currently underway throughout the state. The deadline to request to vote absentee by mail is Oct. 23. Early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day, or Oct. 31.

By Hunter Britt
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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Legal state marijuana sales could overtake illegal trade by year four

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Virginia’s commercial marijuana market could yield between $30 million to $60 million in tax revenue in the first year, according to a new report by the state’s legislative watchdog agency.

The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission released a report this month that explores how the commonwealth could legalize marijuana. The agency, however, did not give its take on legalization. Shortly after the report was released Gov. Ralph Northam announced that “it’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia.”

The state’s tax revenue could grow to between $150 million to more than $300 million by the fifth year of sales, according to JLARC. The revenue depends on the tax and demand of marijuana products.

Most states with commercial marijuana markets tax the product between 20%-30% percent of the retail sales value, JLARC said. Colorado, one of the most mature and successful U.S. marijuana markets, currently has a tax rate close to 30%, showing that while the tax may be high, the market could still be successful, said Justin Brown, senior associate director at JLARC.

“But in reality, there’s no magic rate that you have to use, and I think that’s one thing that the other states’ experience shows,” Brown said.

Virginia decriminalized marijuana possession earlier this year. The substance is still not legal, but possessing up to an ounce results in a $25 civil penalty and no jail time. In the past, possessing up to half an ounce could lead to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

If the Old Dominion makes marijuana legal, it will follow in the footsteps of 15 states.

The legal marijuana market should overtake the illegal market in marijuana sales by the fourth year of legalization, JLARC said. The legal market could likely have two-thirds of sales by the fifth year of legalization. JLARC looked at the reported use rates compared to the use rates of other states to determine this figure, Brown said.

“In the first year the minority of sales will be through the legal commercial market,” Brown said. “But then over time, particularly if supply and demand works out, you’ll capture at least the majority of the full market through the legal market.”

JLARC said that if the General Assembly legalizes marijuana, the total sales tax would come out to around 25%-30%. This figure also came from the analysis of other states and how they taxed marijuana.

The industry also could create over several years between 11,000 to more than 18,000 jobs, JLARC said. Most positions would pay below Virginia’s median wage.

The revenue would cover the cost of establishing a market by year three, according to JLARC.

Northam said in a press release last week that his administration is working with lawmakers to finalize related legislation in preparation for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session, which starts Jan. 13.

By Sam Fowler
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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Governor Northam tightens certain temporary restrictions due to COVID-19

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Here are the details of the amended Executive Order 67:

SIXTH AMENDED NUMBER SIXTY-SEVEN (2020) AND ORDER OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY SEVEN PHASE THREE TIGHTENING OF CERTAIN TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS  DUE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

Importance of the Issue
While the Commonwealth’s case count per capita and positivity rate remain comparatively low, all five health regions in the Commonwealth are experiencing increases in new COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations. Virginia is averaging 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May.

The statewide percent test positivity rate is at 6.5%, an increase from 4.3% approximately one month ago. All five health regions report a positivity rate of over five percent and hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35 percent in the last four weeks.

Case investigation interviews show a pattern of increased socialization with extended (nonhousehold) family members and friends. Recent scientific literature suggests indoor settings contribute to community transmission. Modeling data demonstrates that large gatherings substantially increase transmission of the virus. Although Virginians have done much to mitigate the spread of the virus, it is clear that additional measures are necessary. Accordingly, I order the following additional restrictions.

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 Amended Executive Order 51 (2020), 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, the following is ordered:

A. BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS
1. All Businesses
Any businesses not listed in sections A or C should adhere to the Guidelines for All Business Sectors expressly incorporated by reference herein as best practices. This guidance is located here.

2. Restaurants, Dining Establishments, Food Courts, Breweries, Microbreweries, Distilleries, Wineries, and Tasting Rooms Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms may continue to operate delivery, take-out, and indoor and outdoor service, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, and sector-specific guidance for restaurant and beverage services incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. No alcoholic beverage shall be sold, consumed, or possessed on premises after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. Alcoholic beverages may continue to be sold via delivery or take-out after 10 p.m., as permitted by existing regulations promulgated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control
Authority.

b. Closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5 a.m. Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms may continue to offer delivery and take-out services between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5 a.m.

c. All parties must be separated by at least six feet, including in the bar area. Tables at which dining parties are seated must be positioned six feet apart from other tables. If tables are not movable, parties must be seated at least six feet apart, including in the bar area.

d. Customers may be provided with self-service options. Facilities must provide hand sanitizer at food lines and require the use of barriers (e.g., gloves or deli paper) when employees or patrons touch common utensils. Food lines must be monitored by trained staff at all times of operation, and serving utensils must be changed hourly.

e. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

f. Routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted every 60 minutes during operation. Tabletops must be cleaned in between patrons.

g. Bar seats and congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at tables.

h. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

3. Farmers’ Markets
Farmers markets may continue to operate, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for farmers’ markets incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. Employees and patrons must maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between individuals who are not Family members, as defined below, at all times. Configure operations to avoid congestion or congregation points.

b. Employees and vendors in customer-facing indoor areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times. If the market is outdoors and physical distancing can be maintained, then face coverings are not required.

c. Routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted during operation.

d. Farmers markets must promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers.

e. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

4. Brick and Mortar Retail Businesses Not Listed in Section C, Paragraph 1 (NonEssential Retail)
Any brick and mortar retail business not listed in section C, paragraph 1 below may continue to operate, provided such business complies with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidance for brick and mortar retail expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. Employees and patrons must maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between individuals who are not Family members at all times.

b. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

c. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

5. Fitness and Exercise Facilities
Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, sports facilities, and exercise facilities may continue to operate indoor and outdoor activities, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for fitness and exercise facilities expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. Patrons, members, and guests who are not Family members must remain at least ten feet apart during all activities except where necessary for the physical safety of an individual.

b. Instructors and all participants of group exercise and fitness classes who are not Family members must maintain at least ten feet of physical distancing between each other at all times, with the exception of swimming lessons, where parents or guardians may support a participant during class, and instructors may have contact with swimmers when necessary.

c. Occupancy must be limited to 75% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy.

d. The total number of attendees (including both participants and instructors) in all group exercise and fitness classes cannot exceed the lesser of 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 25 persons.

e. Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features, except water slides, must be closed.

f. Outdoor and indoor swimming pools may be open, provided occupancy is limited to no more than 75% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy and all swimmers maintain at least ten feet of physical distance from others who are not Family members.

g. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.

h. Employers must ensure cleaning and disinfection of shared exercise equipment after each use.

i. Businesses must promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers.

j. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

6. Personal Care and Personal Grooming Services
Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage centers, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed may continue to operate, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for personal care and personal grooming services expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. Service providers must maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between work stations.

b. Service providers and employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

c. Provide face coverings for clients or ask that clients bring a face covering with them, which they must wear during the service except when treating the areas of the nose and mouth.

d. Routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted every 60 minutes of operation. All personal care and personal grooming tools should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. If that is not possible, such items must be discarded.

e. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

7. Campgrounds
Privately-owned campgrounds as defined in § 35.1-1 of the Code of Virginia may continue to operate, provided they comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for campgrounds, which are expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. Employees working in public-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

b. Businesses must promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons entering into the place of employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers.

c. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

8. Indoor Shooting Ranges
Indoor shooting ranges may continue to operate, provided they comply with the following requirements:

a. Employees and patrons must maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between individuals who are not Family members at all times.

b. Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

c. Perform thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces every 60 minutes of operation while disinfecting all equipment between each customer use and prohibiting the use of equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected.

d. If any such indoor shooting range cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

9. Public Beaches
All public beaches as defined in § 10.1-705 of the Code of Virginia may remain open to individual and family recreational activity. All such public beaches must comply with the requirements below.

a. Require beachgoers to practice physical distancing of at least six feet between each person unless they are with Family members.

b. Prohibit gatherings of more than 25 people.

c. Implement and adhere to a cleaning schedule for all high-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal such as benches and railings that includes cleaning at least every two hours between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

d. Establish, train, and deploy a team to educate and promote compliance with beach rules and refer cases of noncompliance to public safety personnel, if appropriate.

e. Establish procedures for temporary beach closure or access limitations in the event of overcrowding.

f. Ensure adequate personal protective equipment for all lifeguards.

g. Perform a disinfectant-level cleaning of all public restrooms every two hours with an EPA-approved disinfectant by staff or volunteers trained to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on cleaning and disinfecting.

h. For chair and umbrella rental companies, require vendors to set up chairs and umbrellas for customers, maintaining at least six feet of distance between groups, and to clean equipment between rentals following Environmental Protection Agency and CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting.

i. Post signage at all public access points to the beaches and other “cluster prone” areas providing health reminders regarding physical distancing, gathering prohibitions, options for high-risk individuals, and staying home if sick. Messaging must be specific to the location.

j. Locality shall provide daily metrics to its local health department to include beach closures, complaint incidents, police reports of violence related to enforcement, and the number of reports of noncompliance to be submitted each Monday.

k. All employees and contract workers must wear a cloth face covering when not able to practice physical distancing following CDC Use of Face Cloth Coverings guidance.

l. Employees and contract workers must have access to soap and water or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, and locality should provide best hygiene practices to employees on a regular basis, including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and practicing respiratory etiquette protocols.

m. Locality shall require all employees and contract workers to take their temperature before reporting to work and direct such employees not to report to work if they have a fever of over 100.4 degrees, have experienced chills, or have been feverish in the last 72 hours.

n. Follow enhanced workplace safety best practices outlined in the Guidelines for All Business Sectors.

10. Racetracks and Speedways
Outdoor racetracks may remain open for racing events, provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines for racetracks expressly incorporated by reference herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. The event must be held at locations with the ability to restrict access (i.e., barriers and gating).

b. All individuals must maintain at least six feet of physical distancing between themselves and other participants who are not Family members.

c. Food services must adhere to the sector-specific guidance for restaurant and beverage services and camping areas must adhere to the sector-specific guidance for campgrounds.

d. The total number of patrons cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons.

11. Large Outdoor Amusement Parks and Zoos
Large Outdoor Amusement Parks and Zoos are outdoor amusement parks and zoos comprised of at least 25 acres of land that contain one or more permanent amusement exhibits or rides and that host at least 500,000 visitors annually.

a. Total occupancy for the venue must not exceed 50% of the combined occupancy load on the certificates of occupancy for all areas of the venue.

b. Install visible markers for queue lines that separate people by six feet of physical distance.

c. Create a guest flow plan of modified queue lines into and within the facility. Determine areas likely to become bottlenecks or pinch points and adjust guest flow accordingly.

d. Patrons must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

e. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

f. Venues must promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers.

g. Venues should screen patrons for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the venue. Patrons should be asked if they are currently experiencing fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) or a sense of having a fever, a new cough that cannot be attributed to another health condition, new shortness of breath that cannot be attributed to another health condition, new chills that cannot be attributed to another health condition, a new sore throat that cannot be attributed to another health condition, or new muscle aches that cannot be attributed to another health condition or specific activity (such as physical exercise). Anyone experiencing symptoms should not be permitted in the facility. Screenings should be conducted in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.

h. Any ride, attraction, or theatre at an amusement park that is located indoors, or has queue lines indoors, must remain closed. The amusement park may open indoor restaurants, concessions, gifts shops or retail spaces, and restrooms. On-site retail, recreation and fitness, cabins, and food establishments must follow the requirements and guidelines specific to those establishments.

i. All private bookings are limited to no more than 25 people.

j. If any such venue cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

12. Entertainment and Amusement Businesses
Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, movie theaters, museums, aquariums, fairs, carnivals, public and private social clubs, botanical gardens, entertainment centers, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and craft facilities, escape rooms, amusement parks and zoos not covered in paragraph 11, and other places of indoor public amusement may open provided such businesses comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines, which are expressly incorporated by reference
herein. Such guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

a. The total number of attendees (including both participants and spectators) cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons.

b. All private bookings must comply with section B, paragraph 1.

c. Install visible markers for queue lines that separate people by six feet of physical distance.

d. Create a guest flow plan of modified queue lines into and within the facility. Determine areas likely to become bottlenecks or pinch points and adjust guest flow accordingly.

e. Ten feet of physical distancing is required between parties at all establishments with physical activity, singing, or cheering; six feet of physical distancing is required in other venues.

f. If interactive exhibits are in service, post signage to discourage congregating and encourage the use of hand sanitizer. Provide hand sanitizer stations around any interactive exhibits. Discontinue any interactive exhibits that pose a risk for children to place items in their mouths.

g. Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of high contact areas and hard surfaces, including check out stations and payment pads, store entrance push/pull pads, door knobs/handles, dining tables/chairs, light switches, handrails, restrooms, guest lockers, floors, and equipment.

h. Where possible, install plexiglass barriers in front of commonly used point-of-sale or guest service stations. i. Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

j. Businesses must promote frequent and thorough hand washing, including by providing employees, customers, visitors, the general public, and other persons to the entering into place of employment with a place to wash their hands. If soap and running water are not immediately available, provide hand sanitizers.

k. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

13. Recreational Sports
Indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities are permitted, provided participants and organizers of recreational sports activities comply with the following requirements:

a. The total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field. Races or marathons may have up to 250 participants, provided staggered starts separate runners into groups of 25 or less.

b. Conduct screening of coaches, officials, staff, and players for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the venue/facility.

For more information on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread associated with indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities, consult the Virginia Department of Health’s “Considerations for Recreational Sports” webpage, which can be found here.

14. Enforcement
Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines appear here. The Virginia Department of Health shall have authority to enforce section A of this Order. Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order, issued pursuant to § 32.1-13 of the Code of Virginia, is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. The State Health Commissioner may also seek injunctive relief in circuit court for violation of this Order, pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. In addition, any agency with regulatory authority over a business listed in section A may enforce this Order as to that business to the extent permitted by law.

B. OTHER RESTRICTIONS
1. All Public and Private In-Person Gatherings All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 25 individuals are prohibited. The presence of more than 25 individuals performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a “gathering.” A “gathering” includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events,
whether they occur indoors or outdoors.

Individuals may attend religious services of more than 25 people subject to the following requirements:

a. Individuals attending religious services must be at least six feet apart when seated and must practice proper physical distancing at all times. Family members, as defined below, may be seated together.

b. Mark seating and common areas where attendees may congregate in six-foot increments to maintain physical distancing between persons who are not Family members.

c. Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable, used only once and discarded.

d. Practice routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious service.

e. Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 is permitted to participate in the religious service.

f. Post signage to provide public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, options for high-risk individuals, and staying home if sick.

g. Individuals attending religious services must wear cloth face coverings in accordance with Amended Executive Order 63, Order of Public Health Emergency Five.

h. If religious services cannot be conducted in compliance with the above requirements, they must not be held in-person.

Further, any social gathering held in connection with a religious service is subject to the public and private in-person gatherings restriction in section B, paragraph 1. Additional suggested guidance can be found here.

2. Institutions of Higher Education
Institutions of higher education shall comply with all applicable requirements under the Phased Guidance of Virginia Forward and the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors.” Any postsecondary provider offering vocational training in a profession regulated by a Virginia state agency/board must also comply with any sector-specific guidelines relevant to that profession to the extent possible under the regulatory training requirements. Such professions may include but are not necessarily limited to aesthetician, barber, cosmetologist, massage therapist, nail technician, and practical nurse.

3. Overnight Summer Camps
Overnight services of summer camps, as defined in § 35.1-1 of the Code of Virginia, must remain closed.

4. Enforcement
Violations of section B paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of this Order shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 44-146.17 of the Code of Virginia.

C. REQUIREMENTS FOR ESSENTIAL RETAIL BUSINESSES

1. Essential Retail Businesses

Essential retail businesses as set out below may continue to remain open during their normal business hours.

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.

They must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors expressly incorporated by reference and linked here. Employers are required to provide face coverings to employees. If any such business cannot adhere to these requirements, it must close.

2. Enforcement
Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidelines appear here. The Virginia Department of Health shall have authority to enforce section C of this Order. Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order, issued pursuant to § 32.1-13 of the Code of Virginia, is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. The State Health Commissioner may also seek injunctive relief in circuit court for violation of this Order, pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. In addition, any agency with regulatory authority over a business listed in section C may enforce this Order as to that business to the extent permitted by law.

D. CONTINUED GUIDANCE AND DIRECTION

1. State Agencies
All relevant state agencies shall continue to work with all housing partners to execute strategies to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Virginians experiencing homelessness during this pandemic and to assist Virginians in avoiding evictions or foreclosures.

2. Face Coverings
The waiver of § 18.2-422 of the Code of Virginia is continued, 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 Amended Executive Order 51 (2020) declaring a state of emergency in the Commonwealth. Amended Executive Order 51 (2020) remains so amended. This waiver is effective as of March 12, 2020 and will remain in
effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 12, 2021, unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Further, where a mandatory business sector requirement in this Order conflicts with a requirement to wear a face covering in Amended Executive Order 63 and Order of Public Health Emergency Five (2020), the business sector-specific requirement governs.

3. Family Members
“Family members” include blood relations, adopted, step, and foster relations, as well as all individuals residing in the same household or visiting such household pursuant to a child custody arrangement or order. Family members are not required to maintain physical distancing while in their homes.

4. Exceptions
Nothing in the 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.

Effective Date of the Executive Order
This Order shall be effective 12:00 a.m., Monday, November 16, 2020, and shall remain in full force and effect until 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 13th day of November, 2020.

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

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VHSL announces mitigation guidelines for return to participation

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On November 19, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed the fourth amended Executive Order 67 which includes changes to Section 12 related to recreational sports. These changes allow the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Championship + 1 schedule to begin playing in December as scheduled. The VHSL has released its “Guidelines for Return to Participation” for school divisions. This document will provide guidance for our schools to ensure a safe reopening of sports and activities.

“Keeping our student-athletes safe is critical during this pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “I know I join many parents in looking forward to the safe return of school sports. VHSL has been a tremendous partner throughout the COVID crisis, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and diligence they have put in the development of these guidelines for returning to play.”

“This amendment by the Governor clears the way for all of our sports to play,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “We appreciate the time, effort, and input staff received while preparing this document. Adherence to these guidelines will offer a safe reopening for our students, coaches, staff, officials, and communities once we start playing in December. Additionally, we appreciate the close collaboration and guidance from the Governor’s office, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).”

Here are the requirements from the Governor’s orders:

Recreational Sports
Indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities are permitted, provided participants and organizers of recreational sports activities comply with the following requirements:

a. The total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field. Races or marathons may have up to 250 participants, provided staggered starts separate runners into groups of 25 or less.

b. Conduct screening of coaches, officials, staff, and players for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the venue/facility. For more information on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread associated with indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities, consult the Virginia Department of Health’s “Considerations for Recreational Sports” webpage, which can be found here.

The modifications outlined in “Guidelines for Return to Participation” are meant to decrease potential exposure to respiratory droplets by encouraging social distancing, limiting participation in administrative tasks to essential personnel, and allowing for appropriate protective equipment. Recommendations include cleaning and disinfecting; mask protocols; transportation; and how to run activities safely for individual sports and activities.

Teams conducting out-of-season workouts will continue to abide by Phase 3 Guidelines as established by the VHSL and the Virginia Department of Health, regardless of established adjustments allowed for in-season teams to conduct regular season and postseason events.

In preparing this document, VHSL staff received input from VHSL and NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committees (SMAC), the NCAA, the Virginia Department of Health, USA Football, USA Field Hockey, US Lacrosse, USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Coaches Association, VHSL school administrators, and VHSL coaches advisory committees.

The Royal Examiner is working with the local middle and high schools to be able to live-stream/record the upcoming basketball games in December. It appears that there will be no spectators at the games.

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Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – November 18, 2020

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Governor Northam joins the Virginia Emergency Support Team to share the latest updates on the COVID-19 response.

Highlights include:

  • vaccines seem hopeful, still a way to go before available
  • 2,071 new cases, 25 deaths on Tuesday, and 29 deaths on Monday
  • hospitalizations increasing
  • new statewide measures were put in place to help slow the spread
  • remind us to wear masks
  • get your flu shot
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Governor Northam announces support for legalizing adult-use marijuana in Virginia

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Governor Ralph Northam announced November 16, 2020,  that he will introduce and support legislation to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The announcement comes as the Northam Administration prepares to release a report on the impact of legalizing adult-use marijuana, which was compiled with robust input from government officials, policy experts, healthcare professionals, and community leaders.

“It’s time to legalize marijuana in Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “Our Commonwealth has an opportunity to be the first state in the South to take this step, and we will lead with a focus on equity, public health, and public safety. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to get this right.”

The Northam Administration is working closely with lawmakers to finalize legislation in advance of the 2021 General Assembly session. Governor Northam made clear that any legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana will need to address the following five principles.

Social equity, racial equity, and economic equity. Marijuana prohibition has historically been based on discrimination, and the impact of criminalization laws has disproportionately harmed minority communities as a result. A report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued today found that Black Virginians are arrested and convicted for marijuana use at more than three times the rate of white Virginians. Legislation should focus on undoing these harms by including initiatives such as social equity license programs, access to capital, community reinvestment, and sealing or expunging records of past marijuana-related convictions.

Public health. Legislation should include substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities.

Protections for young people. As a pediatrician, Governor Northam will require any legislation include protections for Virginia’s youth, including age limits, mandatory ID checks, and education campaigns.

Upholding the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act. Legislation should be aligned with the Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act prohibiting indoor tobacco use, which Governor Northam championed as a state Senator.

Data collection. Legislation should ensure Virginia collects appropriate and ongoing information on safety, health, and equity.

In 2020, Governor Northam signed legislation that decriminalized simple marijuana possession in Virginia. The legislation also required the Secretaries of Agriculture and Forestry, Finance, Health and Human Resources, and Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene a Virginia Marijuana Legalization Work Group to study the impact on the Commonwealth of legalizing the sale and personal use of marijuana and report the recommendations of the workgroup to the General Assembly and the Governor by November 30, 2020.

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Virginia leaders seek input on Lee statue replacement in U.S. Capitol

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State leaders are seeking public input on what individuals should replace a statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee located in the U.S. Capitol.

A commission appointed by the state legislature will hold a virtual public hearing Tuesday to help determine a replacement. The Lee statue is one of two that represents Virginia in the Capitol. The other is a statue of the nation’s first president and also a Virginian, George Washington.

The Lee statue is one out of 13 in a section of the Capitol known as the Crypt. Each of the original 13 colonies is represented by a statue. Legislators passed a bill in the spring allowing a committee to determine if the statue should be removed and recommend a replacement. The commission decided in the summer to remove the statue and will recommend a replacement in December or when the commission concludes its work. A date has not been set to remove the statue, said Randy Jones, public information officer for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The statue must honor an individual that is dead and is a notable historical figure or known for civic or military service, according to VDH. The person must be a U.S. citizen but exceptions will be made for Indigenous people who lived in the nation before it was formed.

For years there has been an increasing call to remove Confederate statues, which accelerated amid demonstrations after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost 8 minutes, while Taylor died after police opened fire while serving a warrant. A legal battle is pending over the removal of the Lee statue in Richmond. It is one of the last memorials in Richmond honoring Confederate leaders after protesters knocked some down, and others were removed by the city.

Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner have called for the removal of the Lee statue in the Capitol.

“The Lee statue in the Capitol should be replaced,” Kaine said in a statement. “There are many compelling candidates for a replacement statue and [I] have full confidence the commission will pick someone representative of our history.”

Citizens have already suggested possible replacements for the Lee statue in the Capitol that can be viewed on the DHR website. Suggested substitutions include former Virginians, such as:

James Armistead Lafayette, a former slave from Virginia that later became a spy for the Continental Army in the American Revolution.

Dr. Robert Russa Moton, second president of Tuskegee University following the death of Booker T. Washington. The Moton Museum, a National Historical Landmark in Farmville, is named after him.

Maggie L. Walker, a former educator, and businesswoman who advocated against racism and sexism. She was the first African American woman to create a bank.

Roger Arliner Young, the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in zoology.

Pocahontas, An Indigenous Virginian, and daughter of Chief Powhatan.

A number of people have nominated former Secretary of Defense and Gen. George C. Marshall. Marshall was not born in Virginia but graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.

Jennifer Oh, a Virginia resident who leads Capitol tours said in a letter that she opposes a statue honoring Marshall. She said the understanding behind the removal of the Lee statue is to have a “Virginia representative that symbolizes a life of inclusion.” Oh wrote that Marshall’s career does not reflect the inclusion or support of minorities.

The commission will also appoint a sculptor to create the statue with preference given to a Virginia-based sculptor. Eight members serve on the commission: Edward Ayers, a professor at the University of Richmond; Colita Fairfax, a professor at Norfolk State University, Sen. Louise Lucas D-Portsmouth; Fred Motley, a storyteller, and performer; Anne Richardson, chief of the Rappahannock Tribe; Margaret Vanderhye, a former delegate who previously led the Virginia Commission for the Arts; and Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton. Julia Langan, DHR director, will serve as a non-voting member.

The public hearing will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants can register to attend or speak at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources website. People can also email suggestions to USCapitolCommission@DHR.virginia.gov until Nov. 27.

By Joseph Whitney Smith
Capital News Service

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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Take part in the 1st annual Gobble Till You Wobble United Way Virtual 5K Run/Walk. Capture your run or walk using a fitness tracker or app and submit for a chance to win gift cards and[...]
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Why should Small Business Saturday just be celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? Buy Local – Shop Local – Eat Local – Support Front Royal’s Small Business Community and stay local! Small Business Saturdays –[...]
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Christmas Tree Embroidery Class @ Downtown Market
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Christmas Tree Embroidery Class @ Downtown Market
Learn how to embroider a Christmas tree using basic embroidery stitches – no craft or sewing experience needed! The finished tree can be displayed in the embroidery hoop. This class is appropriate for adults and[...]
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all-day 2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
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Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Beginning on November 1, 2020, to accept Applications for 2021 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a[...]
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64th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
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64th Annual Pancake Day @ Warren County High School
The Kiwanis Club of Front Royal is celebrating its 75 anniversary this year and are committed to holding the annual Pancake Day fundraising event. This event raises significant funds which are put back directly into[...]
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Rotary Club Cash Fair @ Online Event
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Rotary Club Cash Fair @ Online Event
It’s that time of year for Rotary Club of Front Royal’s annual Cash Fair, and we are going virtual this year due to COVID. This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year and[...]
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2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Gr... @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
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2021 Dare to Dream Enrichment Grant Application @ Front Royal Women’s Resource Center
Front Royal Women’s Resource Center (FRWRC) Beginning on November 1, 2020, to accept Applications for 2021 DARE TO DREAM GRANTS (Take classes, start a business, purchase a computer, learn a new skill, train for a[...]