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F.A.Q. about Emergency Ordinance 20-E(5)
7/31/2020

On Monday, July 27th, 2020 the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our county. This ordinance provides modifications to Forward Virginia: Phase Three guidelines. All other state guidelines remain in effect . The ordinance takes effect at 12 am, Saturday, August 1st, 2020.

Below, you will find answers to common questions we've received this week. Do you have a question about the new ordinance? Please contact us at covidconcerns@albemarle.org or (434) 296-5841.
 
Why did the County create this ordinance?
“In reviewing local data for cases, percent positivity, and resource availability and capacity with the Health Department, it is clear that Albemarle County is not where we want to be with respect to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Supervisors believes these measures, responsive to contact tracing trends, will flatten the curve so that we can keep our community safe – and ultimately, return to normal more quickly.” – Board Chair Ned Gallaway

How will the ordinance be enforced?
Our objective is to protect the health and safety of our community by preventing the spread of COVID-19. We have a two-fold approach to compliance: engagement + education, and enforcement. Our primary efforts will involve community engagement and education. We will visit businesses and share information, we'll listen to concerns and answer questions, we'll distribute posters, and do our best to make sure that our business partners and residents have the knowledge and tools to keep our community healthy and safe.

While we hope that everyone prioritizes community health and abides by the regulations, we anticipate that some folks will make choices that do not align with the ordinance. In those instances, repeat violations of the County’s Ordinance will be considered “willful violations” and the business owner, manager, or individual may be cited by ACPD. Violations of Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines (PDF) will be enforced by VDH and other regulatory agencies.

Why are face coverings being required?
Face coverings help reduce the spread of the virus. As research has continued into COVID-19, more and more health professionals have agreed that face coverings are critical to continuing daily operations around the country, by reducing the spread of the virus. Our goal to prevent the spread of COVID-19 hinges on everyone wearing face coverings in public settings. Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation, and wash hands regularly.

When I am walking outside in Albemarle County, do I need to wear a face covering?
Face coverings are required in outdoor public spaces where at least six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained.

I have a health condition that prevents me from wearing a face covering. What should I do?
If wearing a face covering poses a bona fide and substantial mental or physical health risk, you have two options:
  1. You may present a valid document from a physician or other health care practitioner specifying the medical necessity for not wearing a face covering and the date on which you may begin wearing a face covering again; or
  2. You can see whether the business or entity can provide its goods, services, or activities outdoors.
Employees in public places have the responsibility under the ordinance to ask for proper documentation from anyone claiming a medical exception who enters the public place without a mask.  
 
Doesn’t asking about my reasons for not wearing a face covering violate the HIPAA Privacy Rule ? What about the ADA ?
No. The local ordinance requiring face coverings is modeled on state law. Virginia Code § 18.2-422 likewise requires anyone seeking a medical exemption from the state mask law to “carry[] on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity.” This provision is similar to the requirement that applicants for disabled parking permits produce medical certification of their disability.
 
What does the ordinance mean for sport leagues?
Local league play may proceed, once a plan that details mitigation measures is submitted and approved by Parks & Recreation. The plan must address limits on spectators, adjustments to game play, equipment sharing, etc., in line with best practice defined by the Forward Virginia Phase Three Guidelines (PDF) . The ordinance restriction of gathering (50 or less) is applicable to a game or "event."

Who do I contact to report a violation of Virginia's Phase 3 Guidelines or the County's Ordinance?
Call the TJHD Hotline (434) 972-6261 or visit the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Webform . If you have an immediate need, please call the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) Non-Emergency Line at (434) 977-9041.

Who do I contact with a question, or a concern, about how the new requirements affect me?
To share a concern, please contact Albemarle County at (434) 296-5841 or email covidconcerns@albemarle.org


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