Health Department Press Release on New Safety Measures for Essential Businesses

Last modified on May 12th, 2020 at 04:12 pm

April 18, 2020

9:00 a.m.

New DHHR Rule Establishes New Safety Measures for Essential Businesses

To strengthen the protection of public health and safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has issued a new rule entitled “Public Health Standards for Businesses Remaining Open During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” The rule, which was approved by the West Virginia Secretary of State and made effective on Thursday, April 16, imposes certain new requirements on the “essential” businesses that are still allowed to operate under Governor Justice’s March 24 “stay home” order (Executive Order 09-20).

“Under the new DHHR rule, all businesses still in operation are required to implement telework, work-from-home, or other remote work as much as possible,” said Bonnie Woodrum, an infectious disease specialist at the Randolph-Elkins Health Department (REHD). “The new rule also imposes limits on customer traffic for those businesses that are open to the public.”

Businesses that are open to the public must limit customer access to 2 customers per 1,000 feet of customer space. For example, a business with 2,000 feet of customer space could admit only 4 customers at a time. Businesses whose sales are at least 80 percent “grocery food products” may admit up to 3 customers per 1,000 square feet. For example, a store specializing in grocery food products with 2,000 square feet for customers could admit up to 6 people at one time.

The order requires businesses to monitor the number of customers inside the store at any one time and ensure that these limits are not exceeded. The order also requires businesses to enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet between and among customers and staff, such as by markings on the floor, establishing one-way aisles, and any other measures that may be appropriate in specific businesses. Stores must also install protective barriers for customer service personnel, ensure ready availability of disinfectant and sanitizer products for the use of both employees and customers, and post signs at each entrance communicating the order’s directives.

The complete text of the order is available here.

A checklist for evaluating compliance with the rule is available here.

A template for the entrance signs required by the rule is available here.

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