Virginia Counties Consider Nullifying Northam’s COVID-19 Restrictions

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Three counties have considered resolutions that effectively would halt the enforcement of Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 orders amid heightened restrictions, but two have already been stopped because of legal concerns.

Bedford and Campbell counties considered resolutions that would nullify the governor’s orders by prohibiting local law enforcement from enforcing them. Although some local officials shared their disapproval of the restrictions, both counties found the resolutions, as drafted, were not within the authority of the local governments.

Campbell County is scheduled to discuss a similar resolution Tuesday, but local officials have not finished drafting the proposal. They have said they will base their resolution on a draft provided by the Virginia Constitutional Conservatives. The language would order sheriffs to not enforce some parts of the governor’s orders and order the commonwealth’s attorney to not prosecute certain violations.

The language proposed by Virginia Constitutional Conservatives would withhold funding from police departments if they enforce these aspects of the governor’s orders. County Supervisor Matt Cline has said he does not like the harsh language, but the resolution they’re working on will stand up to Northam, according to The Altavista Journal. Cline’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square.

Virginia has seen a growing number of COVID-19 cases amid the colder weather, which led Northam to impose stricter regulations just ahead of Thanksgiving. These restrictions include a stricter gathering limit on private and public events and a curfew on on-site alcohol sales. Under the new restrictions, public and private events are limited to only 25 people. Alcohol sales at restaurants and bars must be halted by 10 p.m. The governor also intends to beef up enforcement of current restrictions.

Members of the business community have objected to Northam’s expansion of restrictions out of concern that it will further harm restaurants and bars, which make a lot of money on alcohol sales, and hotels and convention centers, which hold events, such as weddings, conferences and awards ceremonies. Many of these businesses already are struggling with restrictions that have been in place since March.

Northam’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square.

The Tyler Arnold – The Center Square