RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam voicing his opinion on what steps the state should implement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter, which was dated Wednesday when Virginia’s coronavirus cases were at 77, asked Northam to consider a list of recommendations that Fairfax “strongly” suggested. The number of cases has risen by 17 to a total of 94.
“I have personally heard from many Virginians, including small business owners, employees, healthcare workers, families and community leaders across the Commonwealth pleading that we implement much bolder and swifter measures to flatten the curve and combat this unprecedented health and, consequently, economic threat,” Fairfax’s letter read.
Fairfax’s suggestions include banning all public mass gatherings and mandating the closure of restaurants, bars and other public places through April 15. The lieutenant governor also called on Northam to close all Virginia schools — K-12, universities and community colleges — until the end of the current academic term.
Actions that Fairfax suggested Northam to implement:
- Mandate a ban on all public mass gatherings at least through April 15.
- Mandate the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms and theaters to guests at least through April 15, while allowing restaurants to maintain approved carryout, delivery services and to-go alcohol sales.
- Close all K-12 schools, universities, and community colleges through the end of the current academic term while continuing online education as available; Provided that guidelines be put in place to ensure that no student shall be penalized, and that those on track to graduate or be promoted to the next academic level, and that all applicable standardized testing requirements, including the SOL tests, be waived or suspended.
- Create a large-scale state-level Small Business Fund & Grant Program to make cash grants and long-term, no-interest loans to ensure Virginia’s small businesses can maintain cash flow and solvency for at least the next 120 days.
- Refund of waive the 2020 Business, Professional, and Occupational License tax to all small businesses in the Commonwealth.
- Suspend all state and local tax payments for 120 days.
- Increase maximum weekly unemployment payments to displaced workers from $378 to $800 per week for at least the next 120 days.
- Negotiate with lenders and landlords to suspend all rent payments, and mortgage, student loan and burdensome consumer loans for the next 120 days. Approach credit rating agencies to freeze all derogatory credit marks for consumers and small businesses for unpaid bills for the next 120 days.
- Create a relief fund for faith-based and other community and non-profit institutions who are severely impacted by mandates prohibiting mass gatherings.
- Call a special session of the General Assembly as necessary prior to the April 22, 2020, Veto Session in order to implement these and any other emergency measures to address the COVID-19 health crisis and provide direct and substantial economic relief to our small business owners, employees and families throughout Virginia.
Northam’s office did not immediately respond to 8News’ request for comment.