- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is directing state officials to work on reimbursing businesses, nonprofits and residents who were fined or penalized for violating COVID-19 measures.

The Republican governor on Tuesday signed an executive order launching a statewide review of “the disciplinary actions taken against private individuals, businesses, and non-profits purportedly as a result of the public health emergency related to COVID-19.”

All state agencies must report the financial and other penalties they have imposed to Finance Secretary Steve E. Cummings by Jan. 15. That includes withdrawn, suspended or canceled licenses or certificates and denials of state contracts due to noncompliance with COVID rules.

“The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19-related penalties and fines is infuriating. Livelihoods are on the line,” Mr. Youngkin said in a statement.

The executive order, Mr. Youngkin‘s 23rd since taking office in January, comes after Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control raided a Spotsylvania County restaurant Friday morning.

Matt Strickland, owner of Gourmeltz and a candidate for the state Senate, has waged a battle with officials over his refusal to heed COVID guidelines and subsequent licensure suspensions.

On Saturday, he announced in a Facebook post that he had emailed the governor’s office after the raid, asking Mr. Youngkin to intervene.

The governor said Tuesday that his proposed budget on Dec. 15 will direct agencies to stop any further collection and enforcement of COVID rules.

That budget will call on Mr. Cummings to work with the General Assembly and agencies to establish “a reimbursement process for individuals and businesses who paid unjust COVID-19 fines and fees,” the governor’s office said.

But violations of COVID restrictions “intended to protect the health and safety” of people in hospitals, nursing homes, certified nursing facilities, hospices or assisted living facilities will not be eligible for reimbursements, the office added.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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