WV Gov. Justice announces restaurants and retail stores can reopen May 21, urges mask use

Coronavirus

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice resumed his daily virtual news briefings on the state’s COVID-19 situation, Monday afternoon with announcements about more businesses reopening.

Week three of the governor’s “West Virginia Strong: A Comeback” plan begins today with wellness centers and drive-in movie theaters opening.

Also beginning this Friday, May 15, guided fishing trips, with some social distancing guidelines, will be able to operate, Justice said.

Week four is scheduled to start a week from today, but Justice announced that most businesses will not reopen until Thursday, May 21, in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Those businesses are:

With these reopenings announced, the governor again urged residents not to let down their guard and to wear face coverings in public. State health officials also encouraged people who can work from home to continue to do so.

“West Virginians, you need to remain as focused as you possibly can,” Gov. Justice said. “I would caution everyone, as we’re reopening, to surely wear a mask when you’re indoors and to do everything you can possibly do to wash your hands and maintain social distancing.

Also on May 21, the governor’s executive order requiring 14 day quarantines for out-of-state visitors, will end, he said. With that end in sight, the governor’s office released new guidelines for hotels, motels, rental properties and cabins.

Low contact youth sports, like baseball, softball and maybe soccer, will likely be able to resume on June 8, the governor said. However, it is unlikely that contact sports like football and basketball will be allowed to resume on June 8, Justice explained.

The state is working on guidelines for reopening the whitewater rafting industry, but so far has not found a safe way of doing it, Justice said.

“I get it. I want this industry up and going,” Gov. Justice said. “But our health experts are really concerned about putting 25 or 30 people in a bus, taking them down the river and to the rafts, and, while they’re in the rafts, you’ve got eight people and a guide jammed in together. All of that really concerns our medical people. I have to defer to our medical people as our experts,” Gov. Justice continued. “I’ve asked the whitewater rafting people to work with them. As soon as we can get some kind of guidelines that everyone can live with and our medical experts feel are safe, we’ll move forward as quickly as we possibly can because I want it open for sure. But I don’t want it open if we’re going to grow the problem.”

The state’s African American COVID-19 task force, which was announced last week, held its first meeting this morning, WV DHHR officials said. Racial demographic information has been added to the state’s coronavirus website. Results from testing at all nursing homes in the state have also been added to the site, with 70% of facilities not having any cases, health officials said. Justice also talked about an effort to get all nursing home residents in the U.S. tested in the next two weeks, while pointing out that West Virginia has already done so.

West Virginia National Guard officials announced that plans are in the works to have a C-130 and a C-17 do flyovers at hospitals in the state to honor healthcare workers, this Wednesday. You can find a full list of times and places here.

During Friday’s briefing, state officials released additional information on how coronavirus is affecting the state’s African American population. Gov. Justice also announced guidelines for reopening the Hatfield-McCoy ATV trail system.

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