West Virginia announces six-week reopening process

West Virginia announces six-week reopening process
© Greg Nash

West Virginia's Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced Monday that his state would implement a six-week plan to reopen some sectors of the state economy, while continuing to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

In a news release on the governor's website, Justice said that health centers and hospitals would be able to resume elective procedures as part of the first phase of the plan, beginning April 30. Hospitals must be able to show that they have adequate stockpiles of personal protective equipment and a plan to respond to a surge in coronavirus cases in order to be eligible.

A second phase, beginning a week later, would allow businesses that provide professional services such as hair salons to reopen, though they will be subject to a number of new restrictions including provisions requiring customers to make appointments and wait in their vehicles or elsewhere before their scheduled time.

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Also reopening in the second phase will be any small business with fewer than 10 employees, while further reopening requirements are set to be released in the days ahead.

After the second week comes four weeks of staggered reopenings of other sectors of the West Virginia economy, based on a schedule that state health experts plan to release in the coming weeks. Not included in the plan are provisions to reopen concert venues, sporting events and movie theaters, according to the governor's statement, which explained that such businesses would remain closed.

“We’ve come up with a methodology that we think will move us forward, with science and math behind it, and experts behind it, and leadership behind it, we’re absolutely moving in the right way,” Justice said in a statement accompanying the news release. “We’re going to monitor and watch every day and we’re going to take small steps and we will see where we are."

“If we’ve got to stop, or slow, or back up, then that’s what we’re going to do. You’ve done good work so far, West Virginia, and now we’re going to have to move forward. We cannot sit still forever because too many bad things will happen," he added.

Justice's announcement comes as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE reportedly urged governors to consider reopening public schools in the days ahead, while several other states have also announced plans to reopen some businesses in the coming days.