Over the weekend, Governor Justice signed two new executive orders—Order 20-20
and Order 21-20
—that further limit permissible activities in six West Virginia counties: Berkeley, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Monongalia, and Morgan. Under these orders, outdoor activities are further restricted to a maximum of five people and essential business and operations are directed, to the maximum extent possible, to order their employees and contractors to work remotely. The most significant development under the orders, however, is the Governor’s direction for local health departments and other appropriate county agencies to “establish and enforce protocols to limit occupancy of any such business and entity that remains open to the public.”
In response, the Berkeley and Morgan Counties
health departments adopted a joint order on April 4, and the Jefferson
and Kanawha Counties
health departments followed with their own orders on April 5. These county-specific orders all generally:
- Adopt the shelter-in-place requirement previously imposed by Governor Justice;
- Limit in-person gatherings to five individuals maintaining a minimum distance of six feet;
- Require even essential business operations to be conducted remotely to the maximum extent possible;
- Impose occupancy limits on essential businesses of two persons per 1,000 square feet of retail space (although Berkeley, Morgan, and Jefferson Counties allow a higher occupancy of 2.5 person per 1,000 square feet in grocery stores);
- Require businesses to adopt certain sanitation measures or protocols; and
- Authorize civil and/or criminal penalties for violators.
There are, however, important distinctions between the orders. Unique to Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties, public lodgings (e.g., hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnbs) are prohibited from renting accommodation for less than 14-day periods, though they may make an exception for health care providers. And, in Kanawha County only, most essential businesses will be required to post the health department notice.
Contact Spilman Thomas & Battle’s COVID-19 Task Force
to learn more about how these orders affect your business.