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Pandemic Response Leaders Discussing Possibility of Lifting Some School and Business Restrictions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Justice announced during Wednesday’s briefing that, as part of his commitment to continue evaluating ways to refine and improve the State’s COVID-19 response, he will be meeting with members of the West Virginia pandemic response leadership team and State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch to discuss the possibility of lifting certain restrictions related to schools and businesses across the state while maintaining a high level of safety for all West Virginians.

“We continue to meet; we’ve been in a bunch of discussions regarding some ideas to lessen restrictions on our businesses and on our schools so we can move forward,” Gov. Justice said. “I think we can move in that direction now.”

The Governor added that he plans to provide a more detailed update during his next COVID-19 media briefing on Friday this week.

Following his briefing Wednesday, Gov. Justice signed Executive Order 5-21, which clarifies the existing prohibition of live indoor music performances.

The new order allows live music performances, except for those incorporating vocals or using wind instruments, to take place indoors, so long as the event is held in accordance with all applicable guidance documents.

Live music incorporating vocals or using wind instruments may be performed indoors only for simulcast or other broadcast to remote audiences where no audience is physically present.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice took time out of his remarks on COVID-19 to once again urge all West Virginians to remain cautious, with severe winter weather expected to continue.

“There is a Winter Storm Warning that is happening, for most of our state, tonight through Friday morning,” Gov. Justice said.

Yesterday, Gov. Justice declared a State of Emergency for Cabell, Lincoln, Putnam, and Wayne counties after winter storms occurring over the past week caused numerous power outages and road blockages in those areas. The Governor also declared a State of Preparedness for the state’s remaining 51 counties with further winter storms forecast for the days ahead.

“This is expected to be a heavy, wet snow, which will cause additional tree damage and power outages,” Gov. Justice said. “I have asked my Emergency Management Division to continue to be on high-alert to coordinate response to this storm.”
The Governor urged any West Virginians who need information on Warming Centers to call 211 for assistance.

He also announced that the West Virginia Division of Highways is once again making preparations to combat the next wintry blast expected to strike the state.

“Crews will be on the roads before the storm hits, during the storm, and after the storm until all roads are cleared,” Gov. Justice said. “The salt sheds have been replenished and are full. Our snow plow drivers will be working 12 hour shifts. So, really, if you’re out on the road, and you see a snow plow that’s doing great work, don’t crowd it, don’t run right up on it.”

Motorists encountering a snow plow should stay back 100 feet to give the driver space and to avoid salt that may be coming from the back of the plow.

“These guys and ladies are doing a phenomenal job, and you’ve got to be really respectful and cautious and try to help them do this great job,” Gov. Justice said.
The Governor went on to add that 911 centers across the state have received a lot of welfare check requests for elderly West Virginians over the past week, and he urged more West Virginians to remember to check on their neighbors.