Mar 5, 2021 - Health

West Virginia lifts COVID capacity limits on restaurants, many businesses

Photo of Jim Justice speaking with one hand gestured out

Photo: Scott Halleran via Getty Images

Bars, restaurants and many other businesses in West Virginia can return to 100% capacity if social distancing can be maintained, Gov. Jim Justice (R) said Friday.

The big picture: Justice is the latest governor to lift statewide coronavirus restrictions, despite warnings from health officials.

  • Texas and Mississippi, both led by Republican governors, lifted coronavirus restrictions, including mask mandates this week. President Biden called the decisions "Neanderthal thinking."

Details: In addition to reopening venues, Justice announced that public gatherings in West Virginia are now capped at 100 people, up from a previous limit of 75.

  • Travel sports teams will be allowed to compete statewide unless a county is designated "red" on the state's coronavirus alert map.

Of note: West Virginia's mask mandate remains in place.

What they're saying: "There are absolutely points that would make us put the restrictions back on, and I hope and pray they do not come," Justice said. "I don’t know specifically what those points would be, but our medical experts are watching this around the clock."

  • Justice added that it was his "responsibility to lead us in the right path and be as cautious as I can be while still trying in every way for us to live with this terrible killer and get us back to as much normalcy as we can possibly get to."
  • Clay Marsh, the state's coronavirus czar and vice president for health sciences at West Virginia University, said in a briefing with Justice that he is "100% comfortable" Friday's decision.

West Virginia's average daily number of cases over the last week has been 266, down 20% from the average two weeks earlier, per The New York Times.

  • The state has recorded over 132,960 coronavirus cases and 2,318 deaths since the pandemic began, according to West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources.
  • More than 208,990 people in the state have been fully vaccinated.
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