Youngkin Won't Block Any Local COVID Mandates, a Shift From Other GOP Governors

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin said recently he will not attempt to block localities from implementing mask or vaccination requirements, in a break from other Republican leaders across the country.

Youngkin, a Republican who will replace Democrat Ralph Northam in January, said that while he will not mandate requirements as governor, it will be up to local authorities to decide whether to implement COVID-19 safety measures.

"Localities are going to have to make decisions the way the law works, and that is going to be up to individual decisions. But, again, from the governor's office, you won't see mandates from me," Youngkin said in an interview this past weekend, according to TV station WRIC.

Those comments are not in line with other Republican leaders, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who have issued executive orders to block local governments from issuing any COVID mandates.

Nonetheless, Youngkin's attitude toward vaccines will reverse some of Northam's actions. The outgoing governor has mandated vaccination or weekly coronavirus testing for state employees.

"I've gotten the vaccine; my family has gotten the vaccine. It's the best way for people to keep themselves safe. And I, in fact, have asked everyone in Virginia to please get the vaccine. But I don't think we should mandate it," Youngkin said during a debate in September, according to CNN.

Additionally, the newly elected governor implied on the campaign trail that he will not support President Joe Biden's mandate that requires all businesses with at least 100 employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

"I don't believe that President Biden has the authority to dictate to everyone that we have to take the vaccine," Youngkin previously said, according to WRIC. Earlier this month, dozens of states filed a lawsuit in opposition to the mandate and have asked courts to determine whether the Biden administration has the authority to enforce such a requirement.

Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin said he would not block local authorities from implementing COVID-19 vaccine or mask mandates. Above, Youngkin at a campaign rally in Danville, Virginia, on October 26. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Virginia's vaccine coordinator, Danny Avula, said that while Youngkin is planning to reverse course on state mandates, the measures Northam put in place have helped to get a large number of Virginians inoculated.

"I'm not concerned that this will be a step back if we choose to not go the mandated route. I think by and large the requirements have gotten a significant amount of Virginians vaccinated," Avula said in an interview Monday, according to WRIC.

Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe earlier this month, a significant loss for the Democratic Party. The Republican-elect, who received 51 percent of the vote, had campaigned against critical race theory, which he vowed to keep out of Virginia's schools.