Northam Promises COVID-Related Punishments, Stuns Public

Northam Promises COVID-Related Punishments, Stuns Public

( – There was a degree of public unease in Virginia as Governor Ralph Northam signed new bills into law on Wednesday, October 21. The measures give the state the authority to levy civil fines on those who breach executive orders related to COVID-19 restrictions. The likely penalty for a breach of the rules would be $500.

It should be noted that, previously, there were more stringent penalties in place. Since the onset of the pandemic, the state could impose a Class 1 misdemeanor for breaches of lockdown rules. This would have left offenders with a fine of up to $2500, a prison sentence of up to a year, or both.

However, police were not strict in enforcing these rules, ostensibly because they were too harsh. Commentators have speculated that these new, lighter penalties will be far more readily imposed.

Northam has claimed his new measures aim to educate people and help them to be “part of the solution.” However, this legislation is a step toward authoritarianism in Virginia, and is likely to anger and frighten many of the state’s citizens.

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