“The Comeback”: West Virginia’s Reopening Plan

April 28, 2020

Governor Justice has now released a plan for the phased reopening of certain West Virginia businesses. You can read the plan here. Read on for a couple of key takeaway points, how business owners can get ready, and local considerations in Elkins.

There are No Firm Timetables

Although the plan envisions a phased reopening that would occur one week at a time, there are not yet firm dates associated with the plan. As the governor’s press release explains, “If the statewide cumulative percent of positive test results (available at Coronavirus.wv.gov) remains below 3% from Monday, April 27 through Wednesday, April 29, the six-week reopening process will begin… on Thursday, April 30.”

However, “In the event that West Virginia’s number of positive COVID-19 cases surges above the 3% threshold, the schedule of reopenings may be slowed, stopped, or reversed.”

That means, that if the positives rate goes above 3% in the next day or two, the plan will not start Thursday, April 30.

Or, if the plan does start on that proposed schedule and the rate later goes above 3%, the plan may be paused or walked back.

What Business Owners Should Do

If you are a business owner or otherwise responsible for the operation of a business or other workplace, please review the governor’s plan carefully to see what preparations you could begin now in order to be able to operate safely once you are able to reopen.

Remember that the DHHR rule limiting the number of customers who can enter businesses and requiring the enforcement of social distancing inside businesses remains in effect. You can review the DHHR order and access a checklist and door-sign template to aid compliance here. The CDC also offers extensive recommendations for operating businesses more safely during the pandemic. You may also be able to find good industry-specific advice through professional and trade organizations.

A Choice, Not a Requirement

Under this plan, in the governor’s words, “reopening is a choice, not a requirement.” Even when your business is allowed to reopen, the decision is up to you as to whether to do so. No one is being ordered to reopen. Also, the governor still wants as much telework/remote work as possible to continue.

The governor also still wants all West Virginians to:

  • Continue to practice physical distancing
  • Wear face coverings in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • Follow statewide Stay at Home Order until lifted
  • Follow all county Health Department regulations

Are There Special Restrictions in Elkins?

Other than the governor’s past orders, the only additional restrictions ordered by Mayor Van Broughton in Elkins are the closure of city hall to the public, a ban on door-to-door solicitation, and the prohibition of yard and similar sales. Regardless of actions taken by the governor, those orders remain in effect until rescinded locally.

City officials will be evaluating next steps for the Elkins area this week. Please continue to check our website or Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates. You can subscribe to our occasional newsletter here.

The Importance of Personal Responsibility

Remember, there will remain a great deal of personal responsibility involved in reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection.

If and when your business is permitted to reopen, please think very carefully about how you can follow or even exceed the governor’s guidelines and the recommendations of CDC experts.

If you are considering patronizing a business, keep your eyes open and think carefully about the procedures that the business is following. If you don’t feel safe, let a manager know that you won’t be back until your concerns have been addressed.

Successful reopening will require all of us to remain vigilant and to act as though we are already infected, so that we reduce the risk of infecting our most vulnerable relatives, neighbors, and community members. We’re all in this together, and we all have a role to play.

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