West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice dispelled rumors he would initiate another shutdown Wednesday and, instead, encouraged residents to continue wearing masks while indoors in public places.
“I want to make one thing clear: Jim Justice does not want to shut anything down in this state,” the governor said in a statement. “I’m trying, with all in me, to just go one teeny step: asking you to wear your masks. There is not a part of me that has a thought, today, to shut anything down. Stop this nonsense. All we’re trying to do is to get to that vaccine by asking everyone to wear their masks.”
Justice signed an executive order last week that expanded the face covering mandate and ordered businesses to enforce it. West Virginians 9 years old or older are required to wear a face mask while indoors in public places even when social distancing guidelines are being followed. Under his previous orders, people were exempt from wearing the mask if they were socially distanced.
People with breathing problems, children 8 years old or younger and people who cannot take a face mask off without assistance are exempt from the mandate.
The order requires businesses to post signs that explain the new restrictions and forces businesses to enforce the order on patrons. Justice threatened action against businesses that fail to enforce the restriction. The order went into effect this past weekend.
“West Virginia, you’ve got to wear your masks, that’s all there is to it,” Justice said. “If wearing a mask is too much for me to ask, this virus is going to be too much for us. It’s the best defense we have against this killer that’s running across the country like wildfire right now.”
COVID-19 cases have been increasing throughout West Virginia and across the country amid colder weather.
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