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Youngkin ends shutdown penalties, wants some reimbursed

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has announced that he will direct state agencies to stop further enforcement and penalties for violations of COVID-19 shutdown violations and ask legislators and agencies to reimburse some fines and fees.

An executive order Youngkin issued Dec. 6 also directs enforcement agencies, boards and commissions to report all fines, fees and suspensions related to shutdown violations. Youngkin, a Republican, is requiring a statewide review of the penalties imposed under his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam.

“The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19 related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line,” Youngkin said in a statement. “While we can’t undo the damage done during the Northam administration, we are taking action going forward to end COVID-era draconian overreach.”

Youngkin plans to include language to stop any continuing enforcement actions and reimburse some penalties in the budget. But it won’t apply to instances where the violation was in relation to practices, guidelines, rules or operating procedures intended to protect the health and safety of individuals, patients, residents and staff of hospitals, nursing homes, certified nursing facilities, hospices or assisted living facilities.

Northam’s former spokesperson, Alena Yarmosky, responded Dec. 6, news outlets reported.

“Governor Northam made Virginia one of the safest states in the nation during the height of COVID-19, while putting us in the top 10 states for COVID vaccinations” she said, adding that the state also won CNBC’s “Top State for Business.”

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