Virginia Governor Ending State’s COVID-19 Related Fines and Penalties, Starts Reimbursement Process

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Reporter
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a senior reporter for the Epoch Times. She covers U.S. news and world news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com
December 6, 2022Updated: December 9, 2022

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Dec. 6 issued an executive order directing state agencies to report all fines, fees, and suspensions related to COVID-19 shutdown violations.

State agencies are to report to the state’s secretary of finance by Jan. 15, 2023.

According to the governor’s executive order (pdf), state action imposed during the COVID-19 public health emergency in Virginia put businesses at risk and barred people from carrying out important daily activities.

“Because of the sweeping impact of these measures, I am directing the Commonwealth to review the disciplinary actions taken against private individuals and businesses and take corrective action where appropriate,” Youngkin stated in the order.

Youngkin, who took office in January, also announced that in his upcoming budget to be delivered on Dec. 15, he will order a stop to all enforcement of the COVID-19 shutdown policies, as well as to the collection of the fines and fees.

“The budget will also direct the Secretary of Finance to work with agencies to develop a reimbursement process for individuals and businesses who paid unjust COVID-19 fines and fees,” a statement from the governor’s office states.

The budget language won’t apply when the alleged violation is related to rules intended to protect the health and safety of people in nursing homes, certified nursing facilities, hospices, or assisted living facilities, according to the release.

‘Livelihoods Are on the Line’

“I am today requiring a statewide review of COVID-19 related penalties imposed by the Northam administration,” Youngkin, a Republican, said in a statement, referring to the policies enforced by Ralph Northam, a Democrat who was the previous governor of Virginia.

“The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19 related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line.

“In the previous administration, we saw our government shut down businesses, close our schools, and separate us from each other. While we can’t undo the damage done during the Northam administration, we are taking action going forward to end COVID-era draconian overreach.

“I look forward to working with the General Assembly to address this, forgive COVID fines and fees and restore licenses that were unjustly suspended.”

Youngkin is the first Republican to have won the state of Virginia since 2009. On his campaign trail, he criticized the COVID-19 policies that Northam had imposed in 2020. Upon being elected, Youngkin said he wouldn’t mandate masks or COVID-19 vaccines but also wouldn’t block local authorities from imposing such mandates.

After being sworn into office, Youngkin signed a slew of executive actions, which included lifting mask mandates in Virginia schools and rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.

School boards filed a lawsuit challenging the mask mandates, and a judge temporarily blocked Youngkin’s order. By Feb. 16, Youngkin signed legislation into law to give parents the right to exempt their children from wearing masks in schools.

Mimi Nguyen Ly is a senior reporter for the Epoch Times. She covers U.S. news and world news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com