CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Public Health today filed an emergency rule which provides consistency to retailers, and provides assurance for purchasers by implementing uniform social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This aligns with Governor Justice’s direction to us that we continue to do everything in DHHR’s power to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, while also keeping critical retail operations open and functioning in a safe manner for both the employees and the public,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.
The purpose of the emergency rule is to provide standard regulations for social distancing in retail spaces across all 55 West Virginia counties rather than on a county-by-county basis.
Under the emergency rule, business remaining open must take the following minimum additional actions:
• Implement a written plan to limit staff, contractors, and vendors to essential personnel;
• Implement social distancing practices in the workplace where possible, including remaining at a six-foot distance from other persons;
• Supplying multiple, adequate disinfecting and hygienic supplies and dispensers to staff and other persons as needed, such as disinfecting wipes or spray, hand sanitizer, and soap and water consistent with the number of persons allowed to be on the premises as set forth herein; and
• Provide protective barriers for employees exposed to the general public.
All businesses that remain open to the public shall limit access to the general public as follows:
• No more than two individual members of the public may enter a business per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space at any given time; businesses of less than 1,000 square feet of customer floor space shall not permit that space to be occupied by more than five persons, including employees, at any given time.
• For businesses whose sales are comprised of at least 80 percent grocery food products or more, no more than three members of the public may enter a business per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space at any given time.
• To ensure that the number of people per square foot requirements are not violated, each business shall track the number of people who enter and leave the business and control the capacity on a one-in, one-out basis after the maximum capacity required by this section has been reached.
• All businesses shall take actions to establish appropriate social distancing measures for the public to the greatest extent possible, including but not limited to, marking areas a minimum of six feet apart at any area where persons are likely to stand or wait in line, creating one-way aisles, and any other restrictions which limit close contact with other people.
• To the extent practicable, a business shall encourage its customers to place their order ahead to allow customers to pick up and pay without entering the business.
• Any business that remains open to the public shall prominently display the directives required by this section in a conspicuous manner at each public point of entry to the business.
Any person who is subject to the provisions of this rule who fails to comply with the requirements herein or otherwise fails to act in accordance with this rule may be subject to enforcement order issued by the Commissioner or local health officer, and is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $25, nor more than $200, as provided by W. Va. Code §16-3-2.