UPDATE (APRIL 8, 2020 5:04 p.m.):

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As part of an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Monongalia County Health Department has issued an order preventing the sale of spirits and hard liquor to non-West Virginia residents until further notice.

The order officially took effect at noon on April 4.

In a press release, the health department cited Pennsylvania, whose governor closed liquor stores last month, because of its proximity to Monongalia County and north central West Virginia and its higher rate of coronavirus infection.

MaryWade Triplett, the public information officer for MCHD, said Pennsylvania has a lot more cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths than West Virginia so it wouldn’t be responsible to continue attracting residents to come to West Virginia.

“Counties were being overwhelmed with Pennsylvania customers and we just didn’t think that was a safe situation,” Triplett said. “Other states that border Pennsylvania had issues as well. There was one New Jersey liquor store that reportedly closed because of the flood of out of state customers. The owner said the store was at 120 percent capacity and that just doesn’t work when you’re trying to maintain social distance practices.”

The health department is requiring observance of the following conditions, which all liquor stores, retail outlets or other merchants with specifically designated sections of stores involved in the sale of spirits or hard liquors must abide by:

  • Having only essential employees during working hours
  • Maintaining a distance of six feet between customers and staff at all times, using floor markings or tape at cash registers or other places where individuals congregate
  • Limiting individuals to no more than 10 people, including staff and clientele during store hours or when open for business
  • Providing adequate handwashing stations, especially at places where paper or other items are exchanged between staff and clientele
  • Frequently wipe down surfaces with 10% bleach solution or similar CDC-approved cleaner anywhere any individual’s hands may reach, including telephones, keyboards, light switches, doorknobs, handrails, etc.
  • Placing an employee outside the premises where spirits and hard liquors are sold to insure that only those citizens with a valid West Virginia driver’s license or West Virginia state identification card be allowed to enter, shop and purchase alcohol
  • Purchases are limited to three alcohol items each business day
  • Any other common-sense measures that will limit the spread of communicable diseases

Failure to adhere to these orders may result in the closure of a business, according to the release.

Finally, Triplett said people who are of legal age can still buy wine and beer no matter where they’re from.