With the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to climb across West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced Monday that he has issued an executive order reducing the statewide social gathering limit from 100 to 25 individuals.
“We want everyone to know this is not playtime stuff,” Justice said. “We now, in West Virginia, have 1,338 active cases. We have grown 206 active cases since I saw you the last time on Friday.
“We are in great shape with our hospitals. But there’s no guarantee that it’s going to stay that way,” Justice continued. “So we have got to significantly restrict the crowd size again.”
The 25-person limitation applies only to purely social gatherings. It does not apply to any activity, business or entity that has been deemed essential, such as religious services, weddings, or group meetings, conferences or other special events held for essential businesses and operations, as defined by Executive Order 9-20, as amended. Such meetings, conferences or other special events will need to plan for social distancing between attendees based on CDC recommendations.
This order went into effect Tuesday, July 14.
Fairs, Festivals, Concerts closed statewide
Additionally on Monday, Justice announced that the same executive order also closes all fairs, festivals and similar events, and prohibits both indoor and outdoor concerts statewide.
“It’s no fun to close things,” Justice said. “But we’ve got to do the things that are going to be prudent for all West Virginians, so we can still do many of the things that we love to do.”
Churchgoers urged to follow safety guidelines
After receiving reports of large church gatherings in various places across the state this weekend, Gov. Justice again urged all West Virginians to wear face coverings and properly social distance from one another to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“It is absolutely mandatory that you wear a mask to church and it is only the smart thing to do,” Gov. Justice said. “We’re going the wrong way here. We’ve got to get this thing turned around and going the way we want it to go.
“I’m a Christian and I’m really proud of it,” Gov. Justice continued. “I truly understand the importance of church and I understand that it is the highest priority in our lives and I get it.
“But then I see a photo of one of our church settings and there’s no one anywhere in the congregation that’s got a mask on. There’s no pews in-between people. We’re just asking for it.
“I don’t question our love. But, at the same time, we cannot keep doing this. We just can’t.”