CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — A stricter indoor mask mandate went into effect in West Virginia just after midnight Saturday morning.
Governor Jim Justice issued the executive order Friday, requiring businesses and restaurant owners to require their customers to wear a mask while indoors or face local police.
The only exception to the governor’s crackdown on masks is when people are actively eating or drinking, are under the age of nine, or have a physical disability which prevents them from following the new mandate.
Otherwise, shop owners are now obliged to call law enforcement if people aren’t complying.
“I don’t allow people in my store without a mask,” said Tammy Krepshaw, the owner of The Consignment Store on Capitol Street.
Most stores already ask people to wear a mask – from Bridge Rd. to Capitol Street, the majority of businesses have signs telling people to wear a mask before entering, others say they’ll refuse service.
“I ask them if they have a mask and if they don’t, I do have some that they can keep,” said Krepshaw.
“I’ve maybe had minimal two people at the most say they’re not going to wear one.”
Krepshaw says she likes the new change, as the rule will become more inclusive for the whole town.
While most customers comply, some can be difficult.
“We’ve had customers react violently,” said Brennan Zerbe at Taylor Books.
“I don’t think it’s my particular role to police them into doing so,” he said.
Patrons on social media and elsewhere expressed mixed reactions to the new mandate, most were angry.
The governor did say shop owners who don’t call law enforcement on patrons who aren’t complying are breaking the law themselves.
Justice also warned Friday that if his current executive orders don’t start slowing the community spread of the virus he will consider shutting down the state as he did in March.