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Gov. Justice broadens statewide indoor face covering requirement

With COVID-19 case numbers continuing to set record highs in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice announced Friday that he has issued an executive order, amending and broadening his Statewide Indoor Face Covering Requirement.

The new order requires all West Virginians, age nine and older, to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places. This differs from the Governor’s initial indoor face covering requirement, which allowed masks to be removed in such places if adequate social distancing could be maintained. Under the new order, that exception no longer exists.

The requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove their own face covering without assistance. It also does not apply to anyone inside a restaurant and actively consuming food or beverages, anyone is inside a closed room by themselves, or inside one’s residence.

Additionally, the new order requires that all businesses and organizations that invite the public into their facilities must post adequate signage advising guests of the requirement and are also responsible for enforcing the requirement to ensure it is being followed.

For children ages two years old through eight years old, face coverings are not required. However, it is recommended that parents or guardians use their best judgment as to when to assist their children, ages two through eight, with wearing a face covering.

Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, children younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, and anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance should not wear face coverings and are exempt from the face covering requirement.

Face shields are an acceptable substitute for those with physical conditions that may cause them to be unable to properly wear a face covering.

The updated indoor face covering requirement went into effect at midnight on Saturday, November 14.

“I am calling for all business owners and managers in West Virginia to step up to make sure that everyone in these businesses is wearing a face covering all the time inside these buildings,” Justice said. “Let’s go one step further and say, to our business owners, what follows this is the shutting down of businesses. From the standpoint of where we are right now, if you don’t step up, business owners, and make it mandatory to wear face coverings when people are entering your businesses, we are going to end up having to take further steps because we will not be able to slow this thing down and stop it.”

Info provided by the West Virginia Press Association

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