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Small Business Wednesday: concerns about small businesses and liabilities related to reopening

BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - Since last week, WVVA has been answering viewer questions about small business loans, unemployment and more.

On Wednesday, John O'Neal, Executive Director of the Mercer County Economic Development Authority, stopped by the WVVA studio to address West Virginia's economy reopening and also concerns from small business owners.

It is week two of Governor Jim Justice's plan to reopen the economy. Hospitals and healthcare providers resumed services last week. O'Neal addressed what additional businesses are reopening during the week of May 4.

"This week small businesses with fewer than 10 employees are able to resume operations. Professional services providers, such as hair and nail salons, barbershops, and pet grooming are able to open, by appointment only.And, outdoor dining at restaurants has begun," said O'Neal.

"Very little will change for Week 3, beginning next Monday. Drive-in movie theaters and wellness centers which are run by licensed healthcare providers are the only new businesses that may resume operations. It is important to note again that no business is required to open on any specific date. They are given the option for reopening, not a mandate," said O'Neal.

A recent survey revealed that nearly 70% of small business owners in West Virginia have concerns about liability when they reopen their businesses. O"Neal addressed what steps employers can take at this time.

"Every small business owner should be concerned about the safety of their employees and the public as they reopen during this environment. Most have liability insurance, but their policies do not specifically address this crisis. President Trump and the US Congress are discussing legislation that will provide some legal protections for employers. West Virginia leaders are also discussing the need for state action,"

"Meanwhile, employers can reduce the risk to their employees and the public by following the guidelines in the governor's reopening plan. They should also follow the best practices for sanitation and distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control," said O'Neal.

More information can be found on the CDC's website.

If you have a question you'd like O'Neal to answer, email us at

Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor and Producer

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