Gov. Jim Justice on Monday announced a rapid acceleration of his multi-week plan to bring West Virginia back online, announcing reopenings of shopping malls, bars, casinos, Limited Video Lottery, museums and other entities between Thursday and June 5.
“We have got to open ourselves back up,” Justice said during his daily state COVID-19 briefing.
Justice announced that indoor shopping malls will be permitted to reopen on Thursday, the date he previously had announced permission for freestanding specialty retailers to reopen.
Last week, the governor’s general counsel, Brian Abraham, said malls would not reopen when big-box stores, specialty retail and mall anchor stores with exterior entrances could open on Thursday, as people continued to come up with ways to control ingress and egress to enclosed malls.
Justice also announced a number of businesses and activities that may restart during Week 5 of the multi-week phase-in of reopenings.
Effective May 26, the following businesses may reopen:
- Bars, with indoor and outdoor seating limited to 50 percent of capacity. Justice previously announced that indoor dine-in restaurants may reopen this Thursday, also at 50 percent capacity but with bar areas remaining closed.
State Parks cabins and lodges, for in-state residents only. State Parks campgrounds will reopen Thursday, also for in-state resi
- dents only.
- Museums, visitor centers and zoos.
Justice also announced that Limited Video Lottery at bars and clubs around the state will restart May 30, with the state’s five casinos authorized to reopen June 5.
With casinos, bars and clubs ordered closed on March 18, West Virginia Lottery gross revenue for March plunged 46%, dropping from $110.03 million in March 2019 to $59.01 million.
April gross revenue, to be disclosed later this month, is expected to fall to $15 million to $17 million, as casinos and LVL were shutdown for the entire month, leaving revenue essentially only from traditional scratch-off and online game ticket sales.
Randy Burnside, the state Lottery’s spokesman, said Monday afternoon that the Lottery Commission has not yet released guidance to casinos and LVL operators on how to maintain social distancing after reopening.
Also on May 30, Justice said spas and massage parlors may reopen.
Justice and Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s COVID-19 czar, stressed the need to continue social distancing and hygiene as the state comes back online, including wearing face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible.
“As we come back together again, as we open our vital businesses, and also as we reopen businesses that give our people a pleasurable life, this is when we are at the risk of the highest spread,” Marsh said.
“Please be very cautious in what you do. We’ve got to crawl before we run,” Justice said, adding, “West Virginia, wear your masks.”