Opinion — COVID guidelines

Published 5:49 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

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Governor Northam will give his final State of the Commonwealth speech on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Due to COVID, the governor will speak from the House Chamber of the Virginia State Capitol before a virtual joint session of the General Assembly. The address will be streamed live on Governor Northam’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and on VPM’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin will address legislators not long after he takes the oath, sometime in the week following Inauguration Day.

On Friday, Speaker-designee Todd Gilbert, in consultation with the incoming House clerk, published guidelines for how the House of Delegates will work to mitigate COVID during the upcoming General Assembly Session.

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The Omicron variant has made it clear that vaccination will not stop or slow the spread of COVID. Rather, it is an effective way to turn what could be a life-threatening illness into a minor one. In the end, each of us is responsible for our own well-being. Thus, the guidelines contain no mandates of any kind.

Members of the public who are sick or are exhibiting COVID-related symptoms are asked not to participate in-person. Vaccines and boosters, where appropriate, are strongly recommended. Medical-grade KN95 masks will be made available by the House clerk’s office for all who enter the Pocahontas Building or the Capitol daily. Those who wish to use the masks are free to do so, but they will not be mandated.

Barring some emergency beyond COVID, the House will meet in person for the entire 2022 session.

Members who are either ill or must isolate due to COVID exposure will be allowed to participate in committee meetings and floor sessions remotely with notice to and approval of the Speaker.

Remote video testimony at committees will continue, in addition to in person testimony. Building capacities will remain reduced and will be closely monitored by the Capitol Police.

To find a detailed breakdown of policies and procedures, visit: https://mcusercontent.com/e8c66a6ccb254adb5e21e438b/files/ec9c2945-ff70-aded-d9f0-b726b31311a8/2022HousePolicies.pdf

Additionally, you can view session, committee and subcommittee meetings live, online at www.virginiageneralassembly.com.

Virginia’s Public Access Project, VPAP, is also a great resource for the upcoming General Assembly session. VPAP’s updated Citizens Guide, https://www.vpap.org/general-assembly/citizens-guide/#covid_protocols,  covers all aspects of engaging with the 2022 General Assembly, from testifying online to COVID-19 protocols. You can also find maps for parking, links to nearby restaurants and tips for making your voice heard.

My Pre-Session Survey is now available for constituents. You can go to the link below to complete: https://VAHouse.checkbox.com/Fariss2022-Legislative-Survey. If you would like a copy mailed to you, contact my District office at (434)821-5929 and my staff will assist. Please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey and forward to friends and family, as this helps me know what my constituents’ concerns are going into this years’ session.

I am still in the same office in the Pocahontas Building, Room 214 and my contact number in Richmond is (804)698-1059. The district office in Rustburg will continue to be open through session as well.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.