The Bulletin

After restaurant raid, Youngkin says state should stop enforcing COVID-19 violations

By: - December 6, 2022 6:20 pm

Gov. Glenn Youngkin greets supporters during a Fredericksburg-area campaign rally for Republican congressional candidate Yesli Vega. (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order Tuesday instructing state agencies to report any punishments they might have handed out during the COVID-19 pandemic and indicated he wants the state to reimburse individuals and businesses who paid “unjust COVID-19 fines and fees.”

The order comes a few days after Gourmeltz, a Fredericksburg-area restaurant, was raided by authorities as part of a long-running legal battle its owner, Matt Strickland, is fighting against the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage and Control Authority that dates back to his defiance of state public health rules during the pandemic. After the raid, Strickland, who is now running for the Virginia Senate, published a Facebook post showing he had asked Youngkin aides to intervene in his situation.

“I am today requiring a statewide review of COVID-19 related penalties imposed by the Northam administration,” Youngkin said in a news release Tuesday evening. “The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19 related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line.”

Youngkin appeared at a GOP rally held at Gourmeltz on Oct. 17, campaigning for unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate Yesli Vega.

Youngkin’s executive order directs state agencies to report to his office by Jan. 15 “all fines, fees, interest imposed and all other discplinary actions imposed” on businesses, individuals and nonprofits “as a result of noncompliance with COVID-19 guidelines.” According to the order, Youngkin’s staff will then conduct a review to determine “what if any corrective action can be taken under the law.”

The governor’s office said Youngkin plans to introduce language in his upcoming budget proposal to create a “reimbursement process” for those punished over COVID-19 violations.

The news release specified that the amnesty wouldn’t apply to hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living facilities that may have violated rules “intended to protect the health and safety of individuals, patients, residents and staff.”

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]

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