Following the end of Virginia’s state of emergency, people in Charlottesville and Albemarle County will not be prosecuted for continuing to wear masks for health reasons.
Per a joint statement from Jim Hingeley and Joe Platania, commonwealth’s attorneys for the county and city, respectively, will not be prosecuted for violating the state’s concealed identity law.
The state of emergency prompted by COVID-19 will end June 30, and a state law making it unlawful to wear a mask in public with the intent to conceal one’s identity will go back into full effect on that day. However, per the release, the same law permits the wearing of masks to protect the safety of the wearer and other persons.
“Those who wish to continue to wear masks in public to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 spread and exposure may do so without fear of prosecution in Albemarle and Charlottesville,” the joint statement reads. “Please be safe and respectful of your fellow citizens.”
The mask mandate was briefly challenged last June by pawn shop owner Tobey Bouch and local radio host Rob Schilling, who claimed, in part, that the mandate violated the state’s concealed identity law. However, the lawsuit quickly hit a snag when an Albemarle County circuit judge ruled that the mandate followed both state code guidelines and addressed a declared public health threat.
Though Bouch and Schilling’s lawsuit is still listed as active, according to online court records, it has languished since last summer and appears likely to be rendered moot by the ending of the state of emergency.