CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has broadened his statewide indoor face covering requirement in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The new order requires all persons ages 9 and older to wear a face covering at all times inside all indoor public places.
It differs from the governor’s initial indoor face covering requirement, which allowed masks to be removed in such places if adequate social distancing could be maintained. Under the new order, that exception no longer exists.
The requirement does not apply to anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who is otherwise unable to remove their own face covering without assistance.
It also does not apply to anyone inside a restaurant and actively consuming food or beverages, or anyone inside a closed room by themselves or inside one’s residence.
“I know, eight months into this pandemic, we are all tired and frustrated. I don’t like wearing a mask just as much as you, and I surely don’t want to see our fellow West Virginians in violation of the law. However, no one has the right to risk anyone else’s health. If you feel that you don’t want to wear a mask, then the answer is simple: don’t go into businesses or any other public buildings and risk harming your fellow West Virginians,” Justice said.
“Too many of our neighbors are getting sick, going to the ICU, and dying. At the end of the day, the responsible thing to do is to stand up and take bold, strong action. That’s what we did today by strengthening our indoor face covering requirement,” he added.
Justice explained the enforcement aspect of his new order by saying: “If a business asks you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are violating the law. If a police officer orders you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are also violating the law.
“If a police officer orders a business to enforce our indoor face covering requirement, and they refuse to do so, the business is violating the law. There are real penalties for these violations,” Justice said in conclusion.