UPDATE: Justice announces new opening dates in 'comeback' plan

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.- (WSAZ and WTAP) UPDATE: 5/18/20 2:45 P.M.

The next steps in West Virginia’s ‘comeback plan’ amid the COVID-19 crisis were announced Monday afternoon by Gov. Jim Justice.

“We’ve got to open back up and our numbers are telling us absolutely to do it,” said Justice said.

Following are the reopening plans for Weeks 4 and 5:

Week 4
(Thursday, May 21)

- indoor malls
- whitewater rafting and ziplining industry
- indoor dining at restaurants at 50% capacity
- large, specialty retail stores
- state park campgrounds to in-state residents
- outdoor recreation rentals
- outdoor motorsport and powersport racing with no spectators
- Hatfield-McCoy trail system
- tanning businesses

Week 5
(starting May 26)

- State park cabins and lodges will reopen to in-state residents
- indoor and outdoor bars at 50 percent capacity
- museums and visitor centers
- zoos

Justice has also given the green light to spas, massage businesses and limited video lottery retailers to reopen on May 30 and casinos to will be allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Justice also reiterated that fitness centers, gymnasiums and recreations centers are permitted to reopen this week. That includes sports training facilities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, martial arts and similar activities.


UPDATE: 5/11/20 3:40 P.M.

While reminding all West Virginians to remain extremely cautious, Gov. Jim Justice on Monday announced week four of his plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Starting on May 21, Justice said the following businesses and public activities will be allowed to resume operations:

- indoor dining at restaurants at 50 percent capacity
- large, specialty retail stores
- state park campgrounds to in-state residents
- outdoor recreation rentals
- outdoor motorsport and powersport racing without spectators
- Hatfield-McCoy trail system

On May 26, Justice said cabins and lodges at state parks will reopen to in-state residents

He also announced that guided fishing trips will be allowed starting on Friday as long as social-distancing guidelines are followed. Only two anglers and one guide will be allowed inside a boat at one time.

Justice gave no reopening date for the whitewater-rafting industry but said his administration, along with health officials, is working on guidelines to reopen the industry as quickly and safely as possible.

Low-contact outdoor youth sports are poised to make a comeback on June 8.

“That would be for primarily baseball and softball, maybe soccer,”he said, adding that he does not expect contact sports like football and basketball to be under the June 8 date.

“As long as you just continue to just do what you’ve already done, we will be okay,” he said.


ORIGINAL STORY: 4/29/20

In spite of questions as to whether there's a significant decline in cases, Governor Jim Justice says West Virginia's restart from the coronavirus shutdowns is ready to go.

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the state, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources, was below 3% Wednesday for the third day in a row.

That means the first week of openings, including resumption of elective surgeries by hospitals, can continue.

The second week, including openings of small businesses and professional services is set to take effect this coming Monday.

But the governor says West Virginians should keep doing what's necessary to keep those numbers down.

"You've produced numbers right in the middle of the hottest bed there could possibly be that are unprecedented," the governor said Wednesday at his daily briefing. "Now we have to do more."

Critics have said the declines should follow the 14-day guidelines established nationally.

West Virginia says future openings for weeks 3-6, including those of restaurants, will be announced in the weeks to come, and are not mandatory.