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W.Va. Governor announces lowering of restrictions

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 10:51 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the lowering of some restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the announcement during a press conference Friday.

Governor Justice says he is signing an order to increase capacity for restaurants and bars to 75% of their seating capacity. That’s up from 50% and only that way if social distancing can be maintained as groups arrive and sit together.

Bars can only increase capacity if they have seating for every patron. No standing room will be allowed.

The governor says hopefully we can remove these restrictions within the next couple of weeks.

He says we are still a long ways from being out of the woods.

The governor also announced he is raising capacity for small businesses and retail stores from two people per 1,000 square feet to four people per thousand square feet and from three people per 1,000 square feet in grocery stores to six people per 1,000 square feet.

With social gatherings, it will be at 75. Public gatherings means any gathering of people for purely social purposes. You must continue to social distance and wear a facial covering.

As far as schools, next week, all teachers and school service personnel over the age of 50 that have requested a vaccine will be getting their second dose, if they haven’t already. It will be finished next week. The governor says he is calling on the State Board of Education to make it mandatory that all counties send their students in grades K-8 back to full time.

He is also signing an executive order to clarify that K-8 students in all counties statewide should be in school.

With live music, the governor is clarifying the existing live prohibition on live music performances, except for those incorporating vocals or using wind instruments, may take place indoors. This is as long as the event is held with all the guidelines.

As far as winter sports, the governor has asked the WVSSAC to work with all county school boards to ensure they have occupancy rules and/or attendance limitations that will meet social distancing guidelines.

All businesses must continue to follow mandatory guidelines such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

The indoor face covering requirement will still be in effect.

Restrictions could be reinstated if another COVID-19 surge happens.

The governor says in the first six weeks of 2021, there has been a 72% reduction in COVID-19 related deaths.

For the first time since November 15, we have less than 10,000 active cases in West Virginia.

With hospitalizations, the governor says this is the first time they’ve been under 300 since November 10.

This is a developing story.

Keep checking the WSAZ App for the latest information.

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