UPDATED: Morgantown bars given the ‘green light’ to reopen Tuesday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mon County bars will be given the option to reopen on Tuesday, October 13, according to governor Jim Justice. Justice made the announcement during the daily briefing today and laced it with warnings.

“With this reopening we are stepping up enforcement by sending more ABC agents and more state police to the area,” Justice said.

The initial closure began in March during the “stay at home” order and relaxed in late May. On July 13, Justice announced another closure on July 13. That day Monongalia County reported 256 positive COVID-19 cases from July 6 to 12, which was about half of its 526 overall confirmed cases. A number of the positive cases involved those 29 years old and under. A series of one week extensions kept bars closed until August 31.

When the bars reopened pictures featuring long lines, no masks and people not social distancing bars were ordered to close, this time indefinitely at 4 p.m. Wednesday, September 2. During that daily briefing Justice expressed frustration with the situation.

“Boom, right off the get-go, we’ve got people standing on top of people, we’ve got no masks,” Justice said. “The bars are closed.”

The guidelines say Mon County bar capacity is limited to 50 percent or less, businesses must have enough staffing to control crowds outside waiting to come in, patrons without face coverings cannot be permitted to enter and service must be refused to patrons who will not cooperate.

Bars and Restaurants can provide limited limited indoor entertainment, but not live music or a DJ as detailed in the WVABCA Restaurant and Bar, and Limited Entertainment Adivosry.

Businesses in violation could face fines, suspension and possible revocation of the license.

Justice made it very clear that enforcement will be swift and the punishment for not following the guidelines will be severe.

“Immediate shutdown yes, that’s absolutely right it could very well come,” Justice said,”We don’t want to be threatening, I just don’t wanna do that, but it could come to doing away with their license.”

Business owners have resources to help comply with the local health department and state health and law enforcement officials. The governor wants to make sure any questions or issues that aren’t clear are brought to light.

“Do everything in your power to make we don’t slip back to where we were before,” Justice,” So please all the bar owners, try as hard as you possibly can, we’ll work with you, if you’ll give it everything you’ve got and we give it everything we’ve got we’ll succeed.”