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State police encourages everyone to stay home

The Virginia State Police is encouraging all Virginians to adhere to Gov. Ralph Northam’s directive and do their part by staying home in order to best mitigate the exposure and spread of

Northam has directed state and local law enforcement to initially address violations of Executive Order 53, which closed non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of 10 or more persons, and Executive Order 55, a temporary stay at home order, with education and warnings.

The VSP said persistent violations of these Executive Order directives can result in individuals or businesses being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

VSP Sgt. Jeff Teagle of the Area 33 Office in Gloucester said his officers would work with area sheriff’s offices on any local issues regarding the Governor’s directives. Area 33 includes Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex.

“Surprisingly, we’ve had no issues whatsoever and no calls related to non-compliance,” Teagle added.

Major Ryan Cookson of the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office said he has not personally received any calls regarding non-compliance and his office has not issued any citations for violations of the Northam’s directives. A spokesman with the GSO Investigations Division said they have also not had any non-compliance complaints.

Regarding the stay at home directive, the law still requires law enforcement to have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop on a vehicle. VSP said it will not be making random traffic stops on vehicles nor conducting checkpoints to determine if a driver is travelling for a permissible reason, as granted by EO 53.

The VSP further said that the EOs related to COVID-19 do not require people to carry documentation related to their purpose of travel, do not close Virginia roads and interstates to Virginia residents and do not restrict non-Virginia residents from traveling into or through Virginia.

The EOs also do not prevent Virginians from traveling out of state but VSP does encourage any Virginian traveling out of state to check, in advance, the other state or states for any travel restrictions in effect for them.

Northam has also advised Virginians returning from out of state or international travel to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.