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Small Business Wednesday: clarifying sanitation, safety protocols as businesses reopen

BLUEFIELD, W.Va (WVVA) - Every Wednesday, WVVA is helping to answer viewers' questions about small business loans, unemployment, and more. John O'Neal, Executive Director of the Mercer County Development Authority, is helping answer questions.

Monday May 11 started week three of Gov. Jim Justice's phased plan to reopen West Virginia's economy. Previously, small businesses with less than ten employees, hair, nail, and pet services; and outdoor dining resumed. O'Neal discussed what businesses are eligible to reopen this week.

"The number of re-openings was rather small this week. Wellness centers affiliated with a healthcare provider, and drive-in theaters could reopen and guided fishing trips may begin on Friday," said O'Neal.

"Next week is when there will be a significant expansion. Certain large retail stores will open, and many outdoor recreational activities will resume, just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend, and the traditional beginning of summer," said O'Neal

There has been some confusion about the sanitation and safety protocols that are in place for businesses and the public. O'Neal discussed information related to legal requirements.

"Certain healthcare and personal services businesses must require their employees to wear masks and gloves....Gov. Justice emphasized again (Wednesday) that the general public is not required to wear masks in public, or while shopping," said O'Neal.

"It is important to note that any employer can mandate stricter policies for their own employees, and any business owner has the right to impose stricter policies for customers who wish to enter their business," said O'Neal.

"Then customers can decide if they wish to patronize the business under those conditions, but there is no federal or state requirement for citizens to wear masks or gloves in public, or while conducting their personal business," said O'Neal.

The Governor encourages, but does not mandate, that people follow the guidelines for sanitation and distancing in his reopening plan, which can be found here.

If you have a question you would like O'Neal to answer, send an email to sbwednesday@wvva.com

Melinda Zosh

Evening Anchor and Producer

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