West Virginia Gov. (R) announced Friday that coronavirus capacity limits on bars, restaurants, grocery and retail stores and other small businesses will be lifted at midnight.
West Virginia is also increased its social gathering limits from 75 to 100, though the limitations don’t apply to other events including weddings and sports.
Although the capacity limits are removed, Justice said in a press release that the pandemic needs to be taken seriously and masks and social distancing will still be required across the state.
“Some folks believe that, wearing a mask, they shouldn’t do it from a freedom standpoint. I only ask you to consider how hard the National Guard has worked to get us where we are today. I would ask you; have you not seen how the ICU nurses have gone to work every day and held the hands of 2,318 West Virginians that died and watched them take their last breath? Have you asked these people about freedom?” Justice said.
Fairs and festivals should begin planning for the summer, he added, though his office has not lifted restrictions for them.
Cases in West Virginia have been going down steadily, and the state saw no deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, just the second day in a “long time” that that has happened, Justice said.
Other states have also started easing their coronavirus restrictions, despite warnings from health experts about the risks of more contagious variants of the virus.
Texas and Mississippi announced earlier this week that they were dropping their mask mandates along with opening businesses to 100 percent capacity.
Connecticut will allow some businesses to go to 100 percent capacity on March 19 and plans to lift more restrictions at later dates.
Justice announced Friday that he is also expanding who can receive the coronavirus vaccine to those 50 years old or older, education workers above the age of 40 and those with preexisting conditions above the age of 16.
Asked about the moves from Texas and Mississippi during a CNN interview on Thursday, Justice said he didn’t understand their hurry.
“If we continue to vaccinate more and more and more, we’ll get rid of the mask. But I don’t know really what the big rush to get rid of the mask is because these masks have saved a lot, a lot of lives,” the governor said.
“If we don’t watch out, we can make some mistakes,” he added.
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