Reopening Guidance for Small Businesses, Restaurants, and Churches and Funeral Homes

April 29, 2020

As you have probably heard, this week Governor Justice released a plan for the phased reopening of certain West Virginia businesses. You can read that plan here.

Per the governor, if the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results (available at Coronavirus.wv.gov) remains below 3 percent through the evening of Wednesday, April 29, “Week 2” of the governor’s reopening plan will commence Monday, May 4. The commencement of Week 2 (and, presumably, each subsequent phase of the reopening plan) will be announced by executive order from the governor’s office.

During Week 2, any business with 10 or fewer employees may reopen (although everyone is still being asked to telecommute as much as possible). Also allowed to reopen are “professional service businesses” in the following categories: hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming. Restaurants, which are currently restricted to takeout and delivery, will then be allowed to offer outdoor dining.

Today, the governor released additional guidance for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and restaurants. Guidance for the above “professional services” businesses will be issued by their state licensing boards or commissions, if applicable. (Click here for a directory of West Virginia licensing boards and commissions.)

The governor has also released guidance for religious institutions and funeral homes, which–although always considered essential and not restricted under the governor’s existing orders–remain prime locations for spreading the virus and are being asked to continue following public-health recommendations for safer operation.

Read on for a brief overview of and to download these guidance documents.

Remember that, regarding this and all future guidance, these are minimum requirements and “businesses are allowed and encouraged to implement more stringent protocols as they see fit.”

Restaurants

In addition to the takeout and delivery options, restaurants will during Week 2 of the governor’s plan be allowed to offer outdoor dining. Click here to download the guidance document for restaurants, which imposes stringent restrictions on where patrons are allowed to go on each restaurant’s premises, use of disposable menus, and cleaning protocols, among other points.

From the guidance document: “As part of the reopen plan, the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (“ABCA”) is developing a streamlined process with no fees for a restaurant to temporarily expand their floor space to include new or expanded outdoor dining space. Additional guidance on this process will be issued by the ABCA.”

Businesses with 10 or Fewer Employees

During Week 2 of the governor’s plan, as mentioned above, businesses of any kind with 10 or fewer employees may reopen (but, again, everyone is asked to continue telecommuting as much as possible).

Click here to download the guidance document for small businesses, which includes advice on screening employees, implementing appropriate sick-leave policies, and designing plans for complying with occupancy and other social-distancing requirements.

Religious Institutions and Funeral Homes

Under the governor’s new guidelines, funeral homes and religious institutions such as churches, synagogues, and mosques “should continue to conduct as many activities as possible remotely, including worship services and religious education, and to follow federal guidelines when providing services and activities in person.”

Click here to download the guidance document for religious institutions and funeral homes, which includes additional recommendations about sick-leave policies, cleaning procedures, and maintaining appropriate social distancing among employees and attendees of events that cannot be held remotely.

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