MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has announced that he is issuing an executive order to extend the closure of all bars in Monongalia County for an additional 10 days, according to a press release.
“Monongalia County remains a hotspot and going to a bar is among the riskiest things that we can do at a time where we’re trying to contain this terrible virus,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve seen some of our numbers across the state start to move in our favor just in the past day or so, but it’s absolutely crucial for us to see continued improvement in Monongalia County in the days ahead. It is our hope to be able to get these businesses reopened as soon as safety can be ensured for all.”
Officials with the governor’s office stated that as of Thursday morning, July 23, more than 17.9 percent of West Virginia’s active cases were located in Monongalia County. Their 289 active cases are the highest total for any county statewide, according to the release.
“At the end of the day, we need a little more time to see where our numbers are headed,” Gov. Justice said. “We cannot afford to make a wrong move and end up right back where we started or worse.”
Officials also explained that the order was also requested by the Monongalia County Commission to help ensure the health and safety of citizens.
According to the release, the order keeps all Monongalia County bars closed for the on-premises consumption of food or drinks or occupancy by the general public. However, officials explained that customers will still be permitted to pick up food or drinks to be taken away.
The new order also allows patrons to be seated, for dining, at tables and bar tops within “bar areas” of restaurants, hotels and other similar facilities, that are subject to the same rules that are in place for restaurants, according to the release. Officials explained that the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration will issue further guidance regarding this limitation to these facilities.
The new order extends the countywide bar closure, established under Executive Order 52-20, until Monday, August 3, 2020, at midnight.