DHHR Releases Social Distancing Standards For Open Businesses

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, has released public health standards for businesses that have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his press conference on Friday, April 17, Governor Jim Justice said the standards were to avoid the confusion between counties.

“Every county had their own guidelines and some businesses have stores in different counties and they were all different,” he said.

The standards apply to businesses deemed essential by Governor Jim Justice’s executive order 9-20 dated March 16. They are directed to employees and the general public. 

The public access restrictions are as follows:

•All businesses that remain open must restrict public access. 

•Businesses of less than 1,000 square feet may not permit more than five people to occupy that space, including employees.

•No more than two people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space may enter a business, unless the business sales are 80 percent grocery or food products. 

•No more than three people per 1,000 square feet may enter businesses whose sales are 80 percent groceries or food products.

•Businesses must track the number of people entering and leaving the store.

•Businesses must take steps to ensure proper social distancing of six feet, marking distance and/or creating one-way isles.

•Businesses should encourage customers to place orders prior to arriving, so they may pick up and pay for merchandise without entering the business.

•Businesses should display these directives prominently at each public point of entry. 

In regard to employees, the business must encourage them to work at home, if possible. In addition, the business must 

•implement a written plan, implement social distancing of six-feet or more between employees, 

•must provide adequate disinfection and hygienic supplies, 

•must provide physical barriers between the employees and the general public.

Penalties include an enforcement order by the local Health Commissioner and a misdemeanor charge with a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $200.