What the Governor’s amended executive orders mean for Virginia dealerships

On Friday (Nov. 13), Gov. Ralph Northam announced amendments to Executive Orders 63 and 67, which lay out the state’s face mask mandate plus health restrictions on businesses and individuals under Phase Three of the Governor’s “Forward Virginia” reopening plan.

Gov. Northam’s announcement reminds us of the importance of adhering to government mandates designed to protect your business, employees, and customers. Failure to comply can result in the virus’ spread, a significant financial penalty, a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to one year in jail, and/or store closure — which could mean the end of your franchise.

"As we have expressed for months, now is not the time to think about why Virginia has implemented these restrictions or regulations. It’s the what that matters: the reality is these rules exist, whether you agree with them or not, and noncompliance puts your business at risk."
— Don Hall, VADA President & CEO

Here are some other key takeaways from the amended orders:

Why the amendments?

“Across Virginia, coronavirus cases are on the rise,” Gov. Northam said in a video providing context for the revised orders. The statewide positivity rate and percentage of hospitalizations and deaths are increasing, he said. The Governor explained this creates a strain for health care and front line workers and necessitates “action to slow the spread.”

What’s new, and what does it mean for your store(s)?

Effective today (Nov. 16):

Statewide, gatherings are limited to no more than 25 individuals. This is a decrease from 250 and applies to both indoor and outdoor settings. This does not apply to more than 25 individuals performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational, instructional setting. In other words, this does not change the way you operate your store so long as you are complying with existing requirements of physical distancing, mask mandates, etc.

The face mask mandate is broadened, now requiring Virginians ages 5 and older to wear a face covering in public, indoor settings absent an exception. Since May 29 and prior to this change, the mandate applied only to those ages 10 and older.

Restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. and close by midnight each day.

Businesses can expect increased enforcement of the Executive Orders as amended. As a reminder, failure to adhere to the requirements in Executive Order 67 and the corresponding guidelines implementing Phase Three may result in store closure and/or a Class 1 misdemeanor and up to one year in jail. Any state agency with regulatory authority over Virginia’s franchised auto dealerships’ sales/finance departments may enforce the Order to the extent permitted by law. The Virginia Department of Health has the authority to enforce the requirements Executive Order 67 and the corresponding guidelines place on non-essential brick and mortar retail. The State Health Commissioner is permitted to seek injunctive relief for violation of the Order. Further, noncompliance with the Order could jeopardize the continued ability of any VADA member to remain open during this difficult time. Failure to adhere to the face mask mandate outlined in Executive Order 63 could also result in store closure.

Bottom Line

Do not underestimate the government’s power to shut down franchised auto dealership operations. Use common sense, and err on the side of caution.

For more on the Phase Three requirements relevant to your business and the continued face mask mandate, be sure to check out our analysis in the VADA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center.