Changes to Covid Restrictions in West Virginia

Restaurants and bars in West Virginia will be moved to 100% of seating capacity provided they can maintain social distancing, Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday.

There will be no standing room, such as in bars.

The state also is lifting restrictions on small businesses and in retail stores. The state also is lifting capacity restrictions on gyms, fitness centers and museums, Justice added.

In all cases, social distancing must be observed, the governor added, urging state residents to wear masks and stay apart whenever possible.

The state’s gathering limit will move up from 75 to 100. Also, youth travel sport restrictions have been lifted, except for counties that are in the red metric on the county alert system map.

Justice mentioned wanting to eventually lift restrictions on fairs and festivals, but he isn’t ready to do that yet.

West Virginia isn’t backing off on the mask mandate yet, the governor added.

The governor said he wouldn’t be influenced by leaders in other states who have nixed mask mandates. He said he would listen to medical experts who still highly advocate mask wearing in public. And Justice implied that leaders who are dropping mask mandates may be politically motivated.

“We’re going to take it a little bit slow and easy, but we’re going to hope we get it right. We don’t do something just to look good in the media,” Justice said.

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar, added a word of caution.

“We still need to be very, very aware that this is not over with yet,” Marsh said, noting national and international statistics from the virus along with the possibility of variant strains of the virus.

Marsh said the state also will continue constantly monitor businesses and activities, and if spikes occur, Justice will reinstate restrictions, Marsh added.

Added James Hoyer, the retired National Guard major general who leads the state’s vaccine effort, in urging continued mask wearing, social distancing and good hand hygiene: “We are close, but stay disciplined.”

Justice also on Friday took a moment to reflect on the anniversary of the state ramping up for the arrival of COVID-19.

“Yesterday marked a one-year anniversary, and it’s been a tough marriage, has it not? … It’s been one tough year. I thank you for pulling the rope, all of us pulling it together as best as we possibly could,” Justice said.