March 25, 2020
Following the lead of a number of states including neighboring Ohio, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has officially issued a stay-at-home order set to go into effect at 8 PM on March 24, 2020, in response to a rise in confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the state. Previously, Governor Justice ordered the closure of casinos, restaurants, bars, fitness centers, barber shops, etc., but this Order, which is similar to the order issued by neighboring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, expands the list to include the closure of all businesses except “Essential Businesses and Operations” and non-essential businesses that have permitted employees to work from home.
The Order includes a broad laundry-list defining what constitutes an essential business, including businesses such as:
West Virginia’s other two branches of government have issued responses to COVID-19 concerns as well. While the Governor’s Order deems many judicial personnel exempt from the stay-at-home Order, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia previously issued an Administrative Order staying all court proceedings, hearings, trials, deadlines, statutes of limitations, and statutes of repose in West Virginia courts until after April 10, 2020, subject to a few limited exceptions.
Leadership within the West Virginia Legislature issued their own statement on March 23, 2020. The bi-partisan statement, which was issued by Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R), Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw (R), Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D), and House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D), indicates that the West Virginia Legislature does not intend to call a special session to address COVID-19 at this time. The statement further reflects that it is the belief of legislative leadership that the state executive branch, FEMA, and public health officials are in the best position to combat the pandemic at this time. However, the statement did not close the door on the possibility of a special session being called as the situation progresses.
While the Governor’s Order reflects that the list of essential businesses is exhaustive, there may be questions regarding how this order impacts your specific business. We are happy and equipped to advise West Virginia businesses on how the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts your business operations
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