Neither the Waynesboro Police Department or Augusta County Sheriff’s Office issued any citations for violations of Gov. Ralph Northam’s executive order to stay at home, limit groups to no more than 10 and close non-essential businesses.
The orders, issued in March, mandated non-essential businesses to close until May 8, while the stay-at-home order remained in effect until June 10. Northam later extended the non-essential business closure to May 14, and the stay-at-home orders were lifted for parts of Virginia that moved into Phase One on May 15.
The local data is consistent with results from an April survey by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. The survey showed less than a dozen citations for violations were issued in the Commonwealth.
Virginia Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran said in an April interview that the low number of citations are “a reflection of the public’s general willingness to follow guidelines set by health officials to help blunt the outbreak.”
Moran also said that police used conversation and education to encourage people to adhere to orders.
“There is no heavy-handedness. We really seek compliance,” Moran said in April.
Waynesboro police Capt. Kelly Walker said the department fielded a few calls of suspected violations, but found businesses were in compliance. In cases of groups larger than 10, Walker said the department opted for education and informing the community.
There were no issues or large problems, Walker added, noting that the community was respectful.
Lt. Aaron LeVeck with the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office said anecdotally that the department most likely found complaints to be unfounded, not substantiated at the time of arrival, handled with advice or resolved through compliance.
“Our goal was to speak with, educate and ask for compliance for founded violations that were reported to us,” LeVeck said.
Statewide, the police chiefs association said in April its survey showed six citations while the sheriffs associations showed three.