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VIRGINIA (WDVM) — The Virginia General Assembly is meeting Wednesday to vote on bills which include potential coronavirus-related relief for Virginians.

Governor Ralph Northam tweeted that he proposed the following amendments:

  • Give renters an extra 60-day eviction grace period
  • Ensure landlords cannot charge late fees unless it is in the lease, and limit how much the fee can be
  • Protect homeowners from foreclosure if they have lost income due to COVID-19
  • Provide short-term grants to small businesses
  • Authorize the Virginia Employment Commission to create a work-sharing program to help employers avoid laying off employees
  • Postpone local elections scheduled for May to November
  • Increase funding for nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Give Virginia Dept. of Corrections the authority to release eligible individuals with less than a year left to serve in their sentences for the duration of the state of emergency
  • Enable state, local, regional, and regulatory public bodies to conduct business electronically

On Tuesday, the governor participated in a virtual town hall broadcasted on Nexstar’s local news stations in the commonwealth, including WDVM.

During the #VirginiaResponds town hall, Northam answered questions from viewers about the possibility of opening beaches, as Florida’s governor just did on Friday, as well as questions about other closures (indoor shooting ranges) and testing capabilities. Senator Mark Warner then joined live from his home in Alexandria, Virginia and talked about his position on President Trump’s committee to reopen America. Finally, Senator Tim Kaine joined in as well and answered some questions. The full replay of the town hall can be viewed here.

The Associated Press reports the following in latest Virginia news on April 22, 2020:

Stay-at-home violations

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam’s orders to stay at home and close non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus have so far resulted in fewer than a dozen citations for violations, according to surveys conducted by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. But some are demanding that the state begin the process of re-opening, including the owner of a Roanoke fitness center who was charged with a misdemeanor Sunday after he defied the closing order. The police chiefs association said its survey showed just six citations, while the sheriffs association said its survey reported three citations.

New field hospital plans on hold

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam’s office says plans to convert three convention centers across Virginia into field hospitals as part of the state’s coronavirus response have been put on hold. Northam’s spokeswoman says recent trends suggest Virginia has sufficient hospital bed capacity to deal with the pandemic in the short term. The sites could still be a possibility if things change, but work to build them out has not begun. Northam announced in early April that convention centers in Richmond, Hampton and northern Virginia would be converted and were expected to be in place within about six weeks. 

Virginia Lottery sales during outbreak

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Lottery has taken a hit in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The Virginian-Pilot reports that sales were down by $45 million in March compared to the same month last year. Lottery profits go toward the state’s K-12 public school system. Overall, profits dropped 28% in the month. Sales are down 10 percent for the fiscal year so far. Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery Board, has told Virginia lawmakers that sales and profits have been “significantly diminished due to the public health emergency and the related economic instability.” He expected the drop to continue, even though lottery tickets are still being sold at essential businesses like grocery stores. 

Special legislative session for coronavirus aftermath

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers are set to hold a one-day legislative session unlike any other in the state’s 400 year history as they grapple with how to handle fallout of the coronavirus. House Delegates plan to meet under a canopy outside the Capitol while the Senate is meeting at a giant event space at the Virginia Science Museum a couple of miles away. Lawmakers will be seated far apart and are asked to wear masks instead of germ-carrying ties to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Latest coronavirus numbers from the Virginia Department of Health on April 22, 2020

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