CHARLES TOWN – Now midway through the fourth consecutive week of steadily easing statewide coronavirus restrictions, more Jefferson County workplaces, businesses and recreation outlets are reopening.
“We want to give people a heads up on a date that they can plan and gear up for,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “We’re doing it as cautiously as we can.”
Starting Thursday, indoor dining at restaurants can serve guests again, but only at half their seating capacity to allow for social distancing. Large retail stores can reopen under customer spacing rules. And whitewater rafting groups can resume on the Shenandoah.
This past Monday, Jefferson and Berkeley counties also won an immediate additional reprieve from the governor’s slightly more restrictive “hotspot” social distancing requirements. Where a five-person limit was set for social and outdoor gatherings in the county, that limit expands 25 or fewer people.
Only after Memorial Day can visitors centers reopen and the Jefferson County Museum can reopen its doors. Bars will be able to sling drinks again starting May 26, but only at half their seating capacity. State parks will accept camping and lodging guests, but only West Virginia residents.
Shops and offices that reopen must continually sanitize their public areas and create queue lines when necessary for social distancing.
Perhaps the biggest economic boost to Jefferson will be when video lottery can resume on Saturday, May 30, and when the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races may reopen on Friday, June 5.
Guidance for all these reopenings is being prepared by the governor’s office.
“As we continue to go forward and as we continue to get closer and closer with dates, we’re monitoring our [virus infection] numbers all the time,” Justice said. “Our numbers have been unbelievable and, if they stay this way, we’ll be able to open more and more.”
As of Monday, Jefferson County had 19 active known infections, with one person hospitalized. Seventy-nine more county residents have had the virus and recovered since the outbreak here in March. One county resident, an unidentified 50-year-old woman health officials reported, has died due to complications from an infection.