West Virginia now has one set of social distancing rules for businesses thanks to an emergency rule promulgated by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources ("DHHR"). Prior to the DHHR’s rule, local boards of health were issuing county-by-county orders that created a patchwork of similar, but different, requirements throughout the Mountain State. The emergency rule supersedes these often conflicting orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic and creates a more manageable uniform standard.
The rule is effective immediately, will remain in operation until the Governor rescinds the stay-at-home Executive Order, and establishes the following uniform standards of operation:
If you are still open as an essential business, you must:
- have a written plan that limits on-site workers to those who are essential;
- implement the social distancing standards set forth below;
- supply sufficient hygiene products (soap, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes) for your on-site workers; and
- provide protective barriers for employees exposed to the public.
NOTE: The rule does not require retail employees to wear masks as some of the county-by-county ordinances did.
Social Distancing Standards
All businesses must implement social distancing practices in the workplace where possible, including a minimum six-foot distance between people. If your business is open to the public, mark areas a minimum of six feet apart at any area where persons are likely to stand and wait in line, create one-way aisles, and otherwise limit close contact between people.
Rules Regarding Customers
Public Posting of Directives
- No more than two members of the public may enter a business (except grocery stores) per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. This does not include employees or vendors entering the business.
- If the business has less than 1,000 square feet of customer floor space, no more than five persons (including employees) shall be allowed to enter at any given time.
- Grocery stores (stores whose sales are at least 80 percent grocery food products) may permit up to three members of the public per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. Again, this does not include employees or vendors entering the business.
- Stores must track the number of people who enter and exit, and control capacity on a one-in, one-out basis after the occupancy limit is met.
A notice must be posted at the public point of entry into the business, but not “in five prominent places throughout the business” as was required by some local rules.
If you are unsure how these rules will impact your business, contact any member of Spilman’s Covid-19 Task Force.