WILLIAMSBURG, VA, 15 APRIL 2020: Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), Caucus Co-Chairman Mark D. Obenshain (R-Rockingham), Caucus Whips William M. Stanley, Jr. (R-Franklin) and Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), and Leader Pro-Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford) today issued the following statement in response to Governor Ralph S. Northam’s (D) announcement that he is extending the provisions of Executive Order 53 through May 8, 2020:
“We fully appreciate the myriad and extraordinary challenges presented by the need to stem the spread of Coronavirus in Virginia. While the Governor has neither sought our counsel nor informed us in advance of his decisions, we are compelled to speak up on behalf of the Virginians we represent. This crisis is not a partisan issue.
“Far too many of Virginia’s businesses simply will not survive an indefinite closure, endangering the jobs of thousands of Virginians and potentially further crippling our economy. We urge the Governor to develop a vision and release a plan – and a schedule - that will allow our businesses to reopen as soon as possible. Virginians deserve encouraging details.
“Merchants and service providers should be permitted to operate, provided they can do so while reasonably adhering to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) social distancing recommendations. It is wholly unfair to only allow large national retailers and ABC stores to operate while Virginia owned-and-operated businesses are penalized. Also, those involved in the professional grooming fields already adhere to some of the most stringent health and sanitary requirements in the nation. Provisions should be made to strengthen those requirements so that they may be able to see clients now, even if it is on a limited basis.
“The Governor’s actions do not take into account the vast differences in Virginia’s regions, treating densely populated areas like Northern Virginia and sparsely populated ones like Southwest and Southside alike. Virginia is a geographically vast and diverse state, and the Governor’s orders need to account for those differences.
“Virginia can’t go on like this. For the sake of our state’s economy and the quality of life of all Virginians, we need to prepare for a safely ‘Reopened Virginia’ as soon as possible. We would welcome an opportunity to be involved in the Governor’s ongoing decision-making process, and stand ready to serve the people of Virginia.”