Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures during a news conference Monday, May 4, 2020, at the Capitol in Richmond, Va.
(The Center Square) – A judge has denied an injunction sought by a Virginia business to block enforcement of Gov. Ralph Northam’s face-mask mandate in indoor public locations in another blow to opponents of the restrictions.
Defendants Tobey Bouche, who owns two pawn shops in Virginia, and Robert Schilling, who sued in his individual capacity, argued the face-mask mandate was out of the scope of the governor’s authority.
The court, however, ruled Monday the governor’s emergency powers are broad.
Judge Claude Worrell of the 16th Judicial Circuit said in his decision it’s the court’s duty to ensure the order is not plainly wrong, grossly negligent, executed in bad faith or issued in violation of the U.S. Constitution or Virginia Constitution. He found it did not.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said this was the 12th decision in which a judge upheld Northam’s COVID-19 restrictions. It is the second decision that upheld the face-mask mandate.
“The case for mask usage becomes stronger every day,” Herring said in a statement. “Evidence and scientific consensus continues to build that masks are one of the easiest, most effective ways to control the spread of COVID and to show your fellow Virginians that you care about the health and well-being of your friends, neighbors, and community. As cases continue to rise around the country and even in certain regions of the Commonwealth, we know a sustained commitment to mask wearing, social distancing, and other safety protocols is the best way to reduce transmission and help get us through this health and economic crisis. I’m proud we were able to again defend this commonsense measures to help stop COVID, and I’m really proud of the work my team has done to keep Virginians safe during this uncertain time.”
In a separate case, a judge blocked another COVID-19-related injunction Monday. Jon Tigges, the owner of vineyard and wedding venue Zion Springs, sought to block the enforcement of Northam’s COVID-19 restrictions, alleging they discriminated against certain businesses. The judge ruled the defendants were unable to demonstrate a likelihood they’d succeed in the lawsuit.