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Justice hints at relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions; announcement expected Friday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday he’ll announce a possible relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions impacting businesses and schools later this week.

Justice said during his Wednesday coronavirus media briefing that meetings are underway this week and were scheduled to continue later Wednesday and Thursday.

“We’re meeting again with our pandemic teams and we’ve been in a bunch and bunch of discussions with the superintendent of schools and I hope to update you on just this Friday,” Justice said.

In-door dining at restaurants has been limited to 50% seating capacity for months following an executive order from Justice. Back on Nov. 12 he reshaped a previous mandatory mask order to cover all of those using public buildings.

COVID-19 active case numbers dropped below 11,000 Wednesday. The active cases have gone down each day for more than a month. There are currently no red counties on the state’s COVID-19 daily alert map.

Justice wasn’t specific Wednesday about which restrictions would be relaxed but he did mention restaurants and schools.

“I think we can move in that direction now and on Friday I’ll be releasing more information on that. To back off restrictions maybe on our restaurants to some degree and absolutely from the standpoint of this blended schedule and things we’re working on with our school system,” Justice said.

County school systems are currently permitted to use blended schedules for in-person instruction. The state Board of Education is now prohibiting full remote instruction. The next move may be to remove blended instruction as an option.