Indoor dining to recommence Thursday, May 21

BUCKHANNON – West Virginians will once again be able to dine out indoors next week after Governor Jim Justice unveiled a list of businesses that will be permitted to reopen following COVID-19 closings.

Justice said Week 4 of the plan – coined “West Virginia Strong – The Comeback” – would begin Thursday, May 21.

The following businesses/enterprises will be permitted to reopen May 21:

  • Indoor restaurants/indoor dining at 50 percent capacity and with certain regulations, such as no live music and no buffets
  • Large/specialty retail stores
  • Outdoor recreational equipment rentals, including kayaks, bicycles, boats, rafts, canoes, ATVs, etc.
  • Hatfield-McCoy Trail System
  • State park campgrounds to in-state residents

Justice noted in-state residents will be permitted to rent cabins and rooms in lodges in state parks as of Tuesday, May 26.

“I would again caution everyone as we are reopening,” the governor said at his daily press briefing. “Surely, indoors wear a mask, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, help the elderly do everything they need to do.”

“The numbers continue to be phenomenally good, and as the numbers continue to be good, we are going to try to push out more and more things for you to do,” he added. “But if you don’t listen to me and the experts, and we could have all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, but you don’t listen to them, we’re going to slip back.”

The governor also announced that guided fishing trips will commence Friday, May 15, but said there’s no reopening date for whitewater rafting outfitters.

“Look, I get it; I totally get it – I want this industry open, up and running,” Justice said, “but the health experts are really concerned about putting 25 or 30 people in a bus and taking them down the river to rafts … and taking them back to the rafts … and when they’re in the rafts, you have eight people and a guide, and all of that really concerns our medical people, and I have to defer to our medical people as well as our reference and our experts.”

As of now, no date has been pinpointed for reopening whitewater rafting operations, with Justice saying that he wants them open “for sure, but I do not want to open if we’re going to grow some kind of problem in Fayette County.”

Finally, the last key date Justice mentioned is Monday, June 8 – the day state officials believe no-contact youth sports, in particular, softball and baseball – may begin.

The governor started his press conference, as always, by asking West Virginians to keep the families of the three individuals – the 52nd, 53rd and 54th – whose deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in their prayers and thoughts.

“This is really tough,” Justice said in reference to the passage of a 25-year-old female in Berkeley County.

To find the complete guidelines for reopening, click here.

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