Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin attends a victory speech at the Westfields Marriott Hotel in Chantilly, Va., on November 3, 2021. He said Tuesday he wants to reimburse people for some penalties incurred during COVID-19 restrictions. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order Tuesday, directing enforcement agencies, boards and commissions to report all fines, fees and suspensions related to the COVID-19 shutdown violations with plans to reimburse some.
Youngkin directed the state's finance secretary to develop a reimbursement process for individuals and businesses who paid what he called "unjust COVID-19 fines and fees."
In a broadside against the previous administration under former Gov. Ralph Northam, Youngkin said the COVID-19 measures taken did more harm than they helped.
"The fact that businesses are still dealing with COVID-19 related penalties and fines is infuriating," Youngkin said in a statement. "Livelihoods are on the line. In the previous administration, we saw our government shut down businesses, close our schools, and separate us from each other.
"While we can't undo the damage done during the Northam administration, we are taking action going forward to end COVID-era draconian overreach."
Youngkin, a potential Republican presidential candidate, said in the end he hopes to unwind many penalties instituted by the Northam administration.
"I look forward to working with the General Assembly to address this, forgive COVID fines and fees and restore licenses that were unjustly suspended," he said.
Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Northam, pointed out Youngkin's frequent out-of-state trips to campaign for non-Virginia candidates during the midterms and questioned his dedication to the state.
"Gov. Northam made Virginia one of the safest states in the nation during the height of COVID-19, while putting us in the Top 10 states for COVID vaccinations," she said.
"I understand Gov. Youngkin is just tuning back into Virginia, but he's been in office an entire year. I'd recommend he focus on his own administration."