New face mask requirement to go into effect in Alexandria on October 1

Starting October 1, a new face mask requirement goes into effect in Alexandria. Passed last Saturday, the ordinance will essentially require anyone in an outdoor public space to wear a mask if they can’t be socially distant, according to Mayor Justin Wilson.

“We want to get to the point where we can reopen our schools and life can get back to normal, and I think making that happen means we’re going to need further sacrifice from our residents and businesses, and that’s what this is about,” Wilson told FOX 5 Monday.

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He added that while Alexandria has made great progress in fighting COVID-19, he has seen some complacency, and the hope is that by passing the ordinance it’ll make people more likely to put on a mask and continue slowing the spread, especially as we head into the fall.

“If you are walking down your street alone in the middle of the night and there’s nobody near you, you do not need to wear a mask, but if you are on a crowded street and there’s lots of people around you and you cannot be more than six feet apart from someone outside your family, you do need to wear a mask,” Wilson explained, adding that the ordinance is similar to requirements already in place in Maryland and the District.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a "Don't Spread Covid-19" sign in the street amid the coronavirus outbreak on May 11, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

The city council considered attaching a fine to the order but ultimately decided against it, meaning the ordinance is geared more towards education than enforcement.

Many residents seemed to be in favor of the measure Monday.

“I’m all in favor of it,” John Goebel said. “Anything we can do to increase public safety is fine by me.”

That’s not to say that everyone feels the same way, however. At Saturday’s public hearing, several people spoke out in opposition to the measure, including one man who said if the council wanted to pass this measure, they should’ve done it months ago, not now.

You can find the full ordinance below: