Summary of COVID-19 Executive Orders and Directives from the Virginia Governor

May 19, 2020

Section 44-146.17 of the Virginia Code dictates that the Governor of Virginia shall act as the Director of Emergency Management during declared disasters. When Virginia entered a state of emergency following the outbreak of COVID-19, Governor Northam gained additional powers to coordinate emergency response efforts. His authority includes the power to issue any binding executive directives and orders he deems necessary to see Virginia through this crisis. To date, these orders include Virginia’s stay-at-home directive, Medicaid changes, and election postponements.

Contact the Virginia attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, with questions about the impact of Governor Northam’s executive actions by calling (703) 520-1326 or reaching out online. We’re available for Virginia business owners and residents alike seeking guidance during the Novel Coronavirus outbreak.

Overview of Virginia’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Orders Currently in Effect

The Governor’s office issues new executive orders and directives nearly every week as the pandemic evolves. Executive directives are binding on government agencies, but they often benefit Virginia residents. Executive orders, however, are legally binding in Virginia and generally applicable to all persons present in the Commonwealth. As such, violating a Virginia executive order may lead to criminal charges. Virginia residents and businesses should review the following executive actions and contact a qualified Virginia lawyer with questions.

Executive Order No. 53 – Temporary Closures of Schools, Restaurants, Businesses, and Social Restrictions

Amended EO-53, expanded and updated on April 15, 2020:

  • Prohibits all public and private gatherings of more than ten people until at least June 10, 2020
  • Suspends all in-person instruction at public and private schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year
  • Permits childcare facilities to remain open and provide limited services to families who otherwise cannot keep their children at home after adhering to specific health guidelines
  • Closes all dining and social areas in restaurants and related establishments, including bars and breweries, until at least May 7, 2020, but they may provide take-out and delivery services
  • Closes all recreation and entertainment establishments until at least May 7, 2020, including museums, gyms, beauty salons, movie theaters, amusement parks, shooting ranges, and social clubs
  • Permits essential retail businesses to remain open during normal business hours including grocery stores, pharmacies, dollars stores, medical offices, technology retailers, auto service businesses, home improvement stores, liquor stores, banks, pet stores, dry cleaners, and pet stores
  • Permits any brick-and-mortar business not otherwise prohibited from operating to remain open to less than ten people at a time while social distancing
  • Advises non-retail businesses to utilize telework options to the extent possible

The Governor may amend, revoke, and expand these orders as the situation develops. For questions about whether your business can remain open during this crisis, speak with a Virginia lawyer at McClanahan Powers, PLLC.

Executive Order No. 55 – Temporary Virginia Stay at Home Order Due to Novel Coronavirus

As of March 30, 2020, EO-55 provides that all individuals present in Virginia must remain in their homes or places of residence unless an exemption applies. Exemptions include obtaining food and other goods, seeking medical attention, meeting with law enforcement, applying for essential government benefits, visiting family members, caring for a pet or individual, attending a court hearing, engaging in outdoor exercise, traveling to work/school/church, and volunteering. During these activities, individuals must maintain a social distance of at least six feet.

Additional directives from EO-55 mandate the closure of all in-person learning and gatherings at public and private colleges, public beaches for activates other than fishing and exercising, and short-term campgrounds. The primary elections scheduled for June 9, 2020, have been postponed to June 23,

Executive Order No. 56 – Postponement of Primary Elections
  1. Voters may request absentee ballots until June 16, 2020, and vote absentee until June 20, 2020. Virginia citizens have until May 26, 2020, to register to vote.
Executive Order No. 58 – Waiver of Certain Medicaid Requirements

EO-58 waives Medicaid and FAMIS copays, pre-screening requirements at nursing facilities, certain steps for replacing durable medical equipment (DME), and 30-day limitations on companion and personal care providers.

Executive Order No. 60 – Immunity from Liability for Healthcare Providers Treating COVID-19

EO-60 clarifies that specific provisions of the Virginia Code work to shield healthcare providers from liability for medical malpractice related to COVID-19. Due to healthcare shortages, providers have immunity for injuries and death caused because they had to refuse, abandon, and/or cease treating patients during a health crisis. They also have immunity for any injuries or deaths arising from their treatment of patients when responding to the outbreak. EO-60 clarifies that healthcare workers are not expected to provide the same level of care during emergencies. Immunity only applies to cases for ordinary negligence and does not excuse gross negligence or willfully malicious conduct.

Overview of Virginia’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Executive Directives

The Governor implemented the following relevant executive directives since the COVID-19 outbreak. Such directives apply to Virginia agencies but may benefit Virginia residents:

  • Executive Directive No. 7 (April 23, 2020) – All DMV locations are closed, but any Virginia drivers’ licenses, vehicle registrations, inspection stickers, or other DMV issued credentials that expire before June 10, 2020, remain valid until July 31, 2020
  • Executive Directive No. 8 (April 23, 2020) – The State Police are to suspend enforcement of certain motor vehicle regulations including safety inspections, out-of-state license transfer requirements, and new vehicle registrations
  • Executive Directive No. 10 (April 8, 2020) – Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control must suspend the collection of license renewal fees for ABC stores for 90 days and permit facilities otherwise licensed to serve mixed drinks and beer to sell and serve cocktails off-premises

If an Executive Directive impacted you or your business, speak with one of our Virginia business lawyers today.

Schedule a Virtual Consultation with a Virginia COVID-19 Response Lawyer Today

At McClanahan Powers, PLLC, our experienced Virginia attorneys actively monitor the stream of Governor Northam’s executive actions to apprise clients of relevant changes. For more information about your legal rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 crisis in Virginia, contact our virtual office today at (703) 520-1326 or online.