Gov. Justice loosens some restrictions


CHARLESTON — During Friday’s briefing, Gov. Justice announced that, after numerous discussions with members of the West Virginia pandemic response leadership team and other state leaders regarding the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and the increasing number of vaccinated West Virginians, he has decided to issue a series of executive orders, lessening restrictions on several types of businesses, as well as schools, social gatherings, and more.

 

Restaurants and Bars


Gov. Justice signed Executive Order 6-21, increasing the capacity limit for all restaurants and bars from 50% of their seating capacity to 75% seating capacity.

This change applies only if social distancing can be maintained between groups that arrive and sit together.

Bars may only increase capacity to the extent that they have physical seating for every patron. No standing room for people to congregate will be allowed.

This change will be effective Feb. 19 at midnight.

These businesses must still continue to follow all applicable safety guidelines, including, but not limited to, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

Small Businesses and Retail Stores


At the direction of Gov. Justice, the DHHR has amended its rules on capacity limitations for small businesses, retail stores, and grocery stores.

For small businesses and retail stores, capacity will be permitted to increase from 2 people per 1,000 square feet to 4 people per 1,000 square feet.

For grocery stores, capacity will be permitted to increase from 3 people per 1,000 square feet to 6 people per 1,000 square feet.

These businesses must still continue to follow all applicable safety guidelines, including, but not limited to, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

Social Gathering Limit


Executive Order 6-21 also raises the social gathering limit from 25 people to 75 people.

This limitation applies only for any gathering of people for purely social purposes. The limitation does not apply to any activity, business, or entity that has been deemed essential, such as religious services, weddings, or group meetings, conferences, or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by Executive Order 9-20, as amended.

Those partaking in such purely social gatherings must continue to social distance, wear face coverings, and follow all other applicable safety guidelines.

Schools and Sports


Gov. Justice went on to note that, by next week, all teachers and school service personnel over 50 years of age, who requested to be vaccinated, will be complete with their second dose.

As such, the Governor announced Friday that he is calling on the West Virginia Board of Education to make it mandatory that all counties send their students in grades Pre-K-8 back full-time. Gov. Justice also signed Executive Order 7-21, clarifying that all Pre-K-8 students in all counties statewide should be in school.

The Governor went on to add that he has been working with the WVSSAC regarding the upcoming winter sports season, which is currently set to commence on the spring sports calendar. The Governor announced that he has asked WVSSAC officials to work with all county school boards to ensure they have occupancy rules or attendance limitations that meet all social distancing requirements and all other guidelines.

Live Music


The Governor also issued a reminder that, following his briefing on Wednesday, he issued Executive Order 5-21, clarifying the existing prohibition on live indoor music performances.

Live music performances, except for those incorporating vocals or using wind instruments, may take place indoors, so long as the event is held in accordance with all applicable safety guidelines.

Live music incorporating vocals or using wind instruments may be performed indoors only for simulcast or other broadcast to remote audiences where no audience is physically present.

  

Vaccine Distribution Update


Additionally Friday, Gov. Justice reported that West Virginia remains among the national leaders in the rate of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

To date, West Virginia has administered 258,451 first doses and 154,798 second doses, totaling 413,249 doses administered overall statewide out of a total allotment of 424,200 doses from the federal government; an overall administration rate of 97.4 percent.

  

West Virginia boasts a first dose administration rate of 99.3 percent and a second dose administration rate of 94.4 percent.

 

As of Friday morning, 8.3% of West Virginia's entire population has received both doses of the vaccines. West Virginia’s percentage remains among the highest such rates of fully vaccinated residents of any state in the nation.

 

The Governor also offered a reminder that free COVID-19 vaccination clinics either have been or will be held in all 55 counties across West Virginia by the end of this week through operation “Save Our Wisdom.”

The clinics are currently available for West Virginians who are 65 years of age and older. To date, 141,186 West Virginians age 65 and older have chosen to be vaccinated, including 69,709 who are now fully vaccinated.

  

 

Each clinic location has its own, unique schedule. Names are being pulled from the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System to fill out appointments after waitlists are exhausted. All clinics require appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted.

To date, more than 269,000 West Virginians have signed up to be added to the pre-registration list.

All West Virginians over the age of 16 are encouraged to pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov.

 

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