While Virginia’s state of emergency expired Tuesday, the state of emergency declared by the Charlottesville City Council will remain in effect likely until September.
Charlottesville’s state of emergency has few remaining provisions. It allows for the council to continue holding public meetings remotely, provides for City Hall to remain partially closed and requires public employees to continue wearing masks when they do work in person.
“The reason is we want to be extra cautious,” said Brian Wheeler, a spokesman for the city of Charlottesville. “We have long meetings where you’re in close proximity, sitting next to people who might not be vaccinated. That’s what’s different about our business.”
The council plans to remove its state of emergency in September, assuming the pandemic does not worsen at that time, Wheeler said.
The number of cases in Charlottesville has dropped dramatically in recent months, hovering around one per day. Meanwhile, the number of vaccinated people continues to rise. Sixty-one percent of Charlottesville’s residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, as of Thursday. Fifty-one percent are fully vaccinated.
The council already has removed all COVID-19 restrictions placed on individuals and businesses, which is in line with state regulations. Gov. Ralph Northam lifted universal mask wearing requirements in mid-May. Later that same month, he eased distancing and capacity restrictions for individuals and businesses.
The expiration of the state’s emergency declaration removes a few remaining workplace regulations related to sanitation and excusing workers who test for or are exposed to COVID-19, among others.
It also ends the state’s protection against evictions, though some federal protections remain. And it removes a temporary moratorium on Virginia’s law against adults wearing masks. Local officials say no one wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19 will not be charged with a crime.