Virginia Attorney General Herring has successfully defended Virginia’s “mask or face covering requirement” against legal challenge on Monday, making it at least the 10th decision Herring and his team have won in defense of Virginia’s Covid-19 mitigation efforts.
“Wearing a mask is such an easy, effective way to help control the spread of the Covid virus and to show your fellow Virginians that you care about the health and well-being of your friends, neighbors, and community,” said Attorney General Herring. “As cases continue to spike around the country, we know that our progress in controlling Covid in Virginia is real, but requires a sustained commitment to things like covering our faces and maintaining social distancing whenever possible. I’m proud we were able to defend these common sense measures to help stop Covid.
The Plaintiffs in this case, a Fauquier County winery and its owner, had filed suit challenging the governor’s ability to order the use of face coverings and claiming the order conflicted with the criminal statute barring the wearing of a mask in public “with the intent to conceal his identity.”
Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction allowing them to opt out of the mask law, but earlier today Judge Jeanette Irby of the 20th Judicial Circuit denied the request for an injunction after finding that “the Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a clear showing of likely success on the merits.”
In Judge Irby’s ruling she found that “Contrary to the Plaintiffs’ contention, the governor’s powers do not preclude him from issuing orders requiring face coverings, and in fact, Va. Code Ann 182.3-422 explicitly anticipates such an event.”
Also found that there “is no conflict between the criminal code and the executive order” because the executive order provides a specific purpose for the mask — “facilitating the protection of one’s personal health” — that makes the mask law inapplicable.
Judge Irby also wrote that “considering the virus’ unusually contagious nature, the Court finds that the requirements of EO63 have been made in good faith and are supported by scientific data,” and that the plaintiffs harm was “purely speculative” and “not irreparable.”
This was the tenth decision Attorney General Herring and his team have won in defense of Virginia’s Covid-19 mitigation measures, in addition to winning court cases to protect the vote during the pandemic.