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Wearing masks, face-coverings are illegal in Virginia, but there are exceptions, attorney says

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Posted at 10:57 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 22:57:07-04

VIRGINIA -- Wearing a face mask in Virginia is illegal and could get you charged with a class six felony -- up to five years in jail and possibly a fine of no more than $2,500. charged Wearing some kind of mask, however, is being encouraged by Gov. Ralph Northam and the CDC because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That is because there are exceptions to the state law -- public health emergencies and state of emergencies, which Northam declared.

The law states that anyone over the age of 16 cannot wear a mask or anything that may conceal the face in public.

News 3 spoke to Virginia Beach-based attorney, Happy O'Brien, on the implications on the law. He said right now people should worry more about the health implications than the legal ones.

"Obviously a halloween mask is not going to prevent the spread of coronavirus and that wouldn't meet the criteria necessary to be an exception for this law," O'Brien said. "At this point, given the shortages that we have and given the recommendations that have been made by the CDC and the state government-- bandanas, t-shirts, any cloth covering the face is going to be acceptable."

O'Brien said the law was created to in response to the KKK presence in Virginia. He also said the law will go back into its full effect once the governor lifts the state of emergency.