Public Hearing Set For Face Covering Proposal In Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA, VA — Alexandria City Council has set the public hearing for a proposed face covering requirement that is stricter than the governor’s statewide order. The virtual public hearing will be part of the Sept. 12 meeting that starts at 9:30 a.m.

The current face mask requirement across Virginia has applied to public indoor spaces since May 29. The proposed Alexandria ordinance would require face coverings to be worn over the nose and mouth in all indoor public places as well as outdoor public places where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Like the state mandate, there would be exceptions for children aged 10 or younger, people whose health would be harmed by wearing a mask, and those actively eating or drinking. It would not apply in personal residences or vehicles.

If adopted on Sept. 12, the ordinance would go into effect on Oct. 1 until further notice.

The mandate would largely be based on voluntary compliance, but the ordinance also includes a $100 civil penalty option. Designated city staff would be responsible for compliance with a focus on educating the public about the requirement. Free face coverings would be distributed to those who do not have one.

Costs related to compliance efforts would be funded by federal CARES Act grant funds. On Tuesday, City Council approved the second allocation of federal CARES Act funds to Alexandria. This includes $4.23 million for city government’s direct costs in response to the pandemic, $2.5 million for renter assistance, $2.4 million for a second round of small business assistance grants administered by the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, $1.53 million towards expanding and extending food security programs, $2 million to start the Alexandria Resilience Fund for community nonprofits, $960,000 towards Department of Community and Human Services childcare and workforce development initiatives, and $290,000 for ACPS’s Virtual Plus+ childcare program.

The first reading of the face covering ordinance was held on Tuesday. At that meeting, City Council also approved an extension of the personal property tax payment deadline from Oct. 5 to Dec. 15. Payment of the car tax or business personal property tax is now due on Dec. 15. Enforcement of 2021 tax registration and the new red residential parking permits will begin on Dec. 16.

The face covering ordinance is the 15th on the meeting docket on Sept. 12. Other items on the docket include a proposal for increase in density for public school use, proposals related to the Douglas MacArthur Elementary project, small business approval process updates, and special use permits for mixed-use projects at 116 South Henry Street and 912, 916 and 920 King Street. More information on watching or participating in the virtual meeting is available on the docket.

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