CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that masks or face coverings inside buildings in the state are now mandatory, during his COVID-19 virtual news briefing Monday.
Justice will sign an executive order today that all residents age nine or above, must wear masks in all buildings that do not allow for social distancing. The order will go into effect Monday at midnight, Justice said.
“If we don’t do it and do it now we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” Justice said. If people don’t wear masks, it will lead to shut downs in the state, the governor said.
When asked about enforcement of the executive order, Justice said that not wearing a mask is not a criminal offense, but asked citizens “what could it(wearing a mask) hurt?”.
If you go to a restaurant or bar, you should wear a mask when going in and out of the establishment, but may take it off to eat or drink, Justice said.
Residents will be able to carry concealed firearms while wearing a mask, which is typically not allowed under West Virginia law, according to Gov. Justice’s legal counsel.
The governor modeled a mask, briefly, during his announcement.
If someone cannot wear a face covering due to medical reasons, things like face shields would be alternatives, state Coronavirus “czar” Dr. Clay Marsh said.
When asked about cleaning cloth masks, Marsh said that washing them with soap and water and air drying is sufficient.
During his Thursday briefing, Justice said that he may announce a decision on masks today.
“I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that at the beginning of next week, we may very well have to go to mandatory masks in buildings, you know, other than your homes. You go out, and you go into a building, you need to probably wear your mask. We tell you you need to, but we may have to go to mandatory masks,” said Justice on Thursday.
During Monday’s briefing, the governor confirmed that the state’s two most recent COVID-19 deaths were related to a church outbreak in Greenbrier County.
The briefing will be available, live, here on WBOY.com and on the 12 News app and will be posted here shortly after it ends.