'THE COMEBACK' | Gov. Justice unveils plan to reopen West Virginia

Published: Apr. 27, 2020 at 12:06 PM EDT
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W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice unveiled his blueprint for reopening the state Monday morning.

Justice says West Virginia's ‘comeback’ hangs on one criteria, the state’s cumulative percentage of positive test results.

On Tuesday, he released specific guidelines for establishments to reopen. To read about small business guidelines:

To read about restaurant and outdoor dining guidelines:

To read about religious entities and funeral homes guidelines:

The governor announced his administration will begin reopening the state in phases once the state has experienced three consecutive days maintaining a cumulative percentage of positive test results below 3 percent.

As of 7 p.m. Monday, that percentage was at 2.49 percent. You can keep track of the percentage by clicking

“We’ve come up with a methodology that we think will move us forward, with science and math behind it, and experts behind it, and leadership behind it, we’re absolutely moving in the right way,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going to monitor and watch every day and we’re going to take small steps and we will see where we are.

Week One

If the three-day criteria has been met, week one phase of reopening will begin on Thursday, April 30. Justice says week one of reopening the state will consist of hospitals restarting elective medical procedures along with outpatient health care services such as primary care, dentistry, physical and occupational therapy, as well as mental health services. Hospitals wanting to resume elective procedures must have adequate inventories of personal protection equipment (PPE) and a plan of response for a potential surge.

Daycares will also be allowed to resume operations beginning week one. Friday, Justice announced plans to require mandatory COVID-19 testing of all staff at daycare facilities in the state. The governor also spoke about the possibility of taking the temperatures of children and parents at those facilities.

Week Two

If the state sees three consecutive days of positive cases below 3%, Monday, May 4, will be the start of week two. Each Monday after this will begin the next week in the six-week plan.

Small businesses supplied with the proper PPE and fewer than 10 employees will get the green light in week two of the governor’s reopening plan.

Hair and nail salons, barbershops, and such will be allowed to open their doors by appointment only, and masks will be required to be worn by both employees and customers. Customers must also wait in their vehicles until it is time for their appointments.

Justice says customers would be required to remain in their vehicle until called into the business and temperature checks will be required.

Outdoor dining at restaurants is also under the week two umbrella, according to the governor. They will be permitted under strict physical distancing restrictions.

During week two, churches and funerals with a limited gathering size will also be permitted with the proper PPE. People will be encouraged to follow additional guidelines such as limiting seating to every other pew, maintaining physical distance and wearing face covering restrictions.

The governor's office says additional guidance for week two reopening businesses and churches will "be available soon."

Weeks Three through Six

The following businesses are included in this time period: office and government buildings, specialty retail stores, parks, gyms and recreational centers, dine-in restaurants, hotels, casinos, spas and any other remaining small business.

The dates for these businesses to reopen will be based on medical experts advice and testing data at that time.

The governor's office said Justice will give each business in weeks three to six at least a one week's notice of their respective opening date.

The locations that have no timeline for reopening right now include: nursing homes and entertainment venues such as movie theaters, sporting events and concerts. The Governor's office says entertainment venues will "remain closed for the foreseeable future."

Gatherings larger than 25 people will still not be allowed under Gov. Justice’s new guidelines.

Gov. Justice says West Virginians should continue to:
  • practice physical distancing
  • wear face coverings in public where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • follow the statewide stay at home order until lifted
  • follow all county health department regulations
  • telework when possible

For Justice's roadmap for reopening West Virginia, tap the related documents tab.

The governor said reopening is a choice, not a requirement, businesses included in each phase are not required to resume operations on any specific date.

The stay-at-home order is still in place until lifted at a later date, according to Justice. He also recommends that people still continue to work from home, if possible.

Keep checking WSAZ.com and the WSAZ app for the latest information.