Gov. Justice rolls out more reopenings under “Comeback” plan

Overnight facilities at West Virginia’s 35 state parks and nine forests, currently closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, will start reopening to state residents this Thursday, May 21.

Campgrounds are scheduled to open May 21, while cabins and lodges will open on May 26. To follow the guidelines of Gov. Jim Justice’s Safer at Home order and reopening plan for the state, overnight facilities will only be open to West Virginia residents.

Most day-use areas remain open to the public, though social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

Cabins, lodges, nature centers and museums are scheduled to open on May 26. Restaurants also will resume full service with reduced seating capacity.

Cabin and lodge room reservations also will be limited to West Virginia residents until further notice and only registered guests will be permitted to stay overnight.

Park and forest staff will follow all guidelines issued by Gov. Justice, as well as state and federal health officials. This includes wearing personal protective equipment, such as masks, and adopting deep-cleaning measures at all facilities.

Staff also have been instructed to place signs promoting social distancing guidelines around all park and forest facilities. Park staff will monitor day-use areas and prohibit all gatherings of 25 or more people in one location.

Also on Thursday, the governor has said indoor shopping malls will be able to reopen.

Starting on Tuesday, May 26, West Virginia bars can open at 50% capacity. Spas and massage businesses can reopen on Saturday, May 30 under the governor’s guidelines.

Video lottery retailers and casinos are set to reopen on May 30 and June 5, respectively.

On Monday, May 18, reopenings of fitness centers, gyms and recreation centers were allowed, along with sports training facilities.

On Thursday, May 21, indoor dining are restaurants is permitted to resume.

Large, specialty retails store can open on Thursday, along with outdoor recreation rentals, tanning businesses, whitewater rafting and other outdoor adventure businesses.

Documents outlining rules for each type of business to reopen and public health protocols to be followed are available on the governor’s website.

Justice’s “Safer at Home” order remains in effect, urging those who are older and in vulnerable health are most protected from COVID-19 if they limit their public interactions and restrict movements outside of their homes.

All counties have now been removed from the “hot spot” designation. There have been 1,502 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia since mid-March, and 68 deaths attributed to the respiratory disease.

Morgan County has 17 confirmed cases of the disease and no deaths. Neighboring Berkeley County has had 215 cases and six deaths, while Hampshire County to the west has had 12 cases and one fatality.