Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam will not renew the coronavirus-related state of emergency in Virginia when it expires June 30.
“With 68.7 percent of Virginia adults at least partially vaccinated and cases and hospitalizations at record lows, COVID-19 is no longer an immediate emergency in our commonwealth,” Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, told WTOP in an email Friday. “Therefore, Governor Northam will not extend Virginia’s State of Emergency when it expires at the end of this month.”
The change means an end to the last remaining public-health restrictions, but Yarmosky said people who want to wear masks, or aren’t vaccinated, are encouraged to.
That could run into a complication with Virginia law, which prohibits mask wearing; last month, Northam’s general counsel, Rita Davis, said the governor would consider issuing a new state of emergency to allow for masks.
Yarmosky said the statute “currently prohibits mask wearing with the intent to conceal one’s identity — the Governor is confident that no Virginians will be penalized for wearing masks for health reasons. That being said, he hopes to address any ambiguity during an upcoming special session this summer.”
She added that various protections for tenants were already set to remain in place after the state of emergency ends. Stays of eviction when tenants can show failure to pay rent due to the pandemic stay in effect for 90 days after the emergency is lifted. Rent support for tenants and landlords will still be available when the emergency is over, she added.
In Maryland, Gov. Hogan renewed the state of emergency on May 12. A spokesman said he anticipates it will be renewed Saturday for 30 days, noting “the state of emergency largely serves to facilitate some of the administrative aspects of our response.”
An announcement on next steps is anticipated in the coming weeks.
In D.C., the council gave mayor Muriel Bowser the authority to extend the public health emergency until July 25 at the latest. It’s unclear whether she will keep it in place until then.
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus vaccine FAQ: What you need to know
- Latest vaccination numbers in DC, Maryland and Virginia