Covid-19 Update: W. Va. DHHR Issues Public Health Standards for Businesses Remaining Open During the Covid-19 Outbreak

On April 16, 2020, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (“DHHR”) filed an emergency rule (64 C.S.R. 114) which provides uniform social distancing guidelines to retailers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergency rule supersedes any conflicting provisions of local board of health or other local governing body order related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This rule provides that any Essential Business (as defined in Section 3 of Executive Order 9-20 or subsequent Executive Order) shall direct their employees, contractors, and vendors to work from home, to the maximum extent possible, or to otherwise work remotely.

Further, any businesses that choose to remain open must take the following minimum additional actions to protect employees while in the workplace:

  1. Implement a written plan to limit staff, contractors, and vendors to essential personnel;
  1. Implement social distancing practices in the workplace where possible, including remaining at a minimum six-foot distance from other persons;
  1. Supply multiple, adequate disinfecting and hygienic supplies and dispensers to staff and other persons as needed, such as disinfecting wipes or spray, hand sanitizer, and soap and water consistent with the number of persons allowed to be on the premises (see below); and
  1. Provide protective barriers for employees exposed to the general public.

Finally, in order to protect customers, employees, and other persons, all businesses that remain open to the public must limit access to the general public as follows:

  1. No more than two individual members of the public may enter a business per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space at any given time; businesses of less than 1,000 square feet of customer floor space shall not permit that space to be occupied by more than five persons, including employees, at any given time.
  1. For businesses whose sales are comprised of at least 80 percent grocery food products or more, no more than three members of the public may enter a business per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space at any given time.
  1. To ensure that the number of people per square foot requirements are not violated, each business shall track the number of people who enter and leave the business and control the capacity on a one-in, one-out basis after the maximum capacity required by this section has been reached.
  1. All businesses shall take actions to establish appropriate social distancing measures for the public to the greatest extent possible, including but not limited to, marking areas a minimum of six  feet apart at any area where persons are likely to stand or wait in line, creating one-way aisles, and any other restrictions which limit close contact with other people.
  1. To the extent practicable, a business shall encourage its customers to place their order ahead to allow customers to pick up and pay without entering the business.
  1. Any business that remains open to the public shall prominently display the directives required by this section in a conspicuous manner at each public point of entry to the business.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the emergency rule may result in an enforcement order issued by the Commissioner of DHHR or the local public health officer and the offending person may be charged with a misdemeanor. If convicted of the misdemeanor, the penalty is a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $200 (as provided in W. Va. Code § 16-3-2)

Please do not hesitate to reach out to Lewis Glasser if you need help understanding this emergency rule and its effect on your business.


Matthew R. Bowles  


Lewis Glasser PLLC   

(O) 304.345.2000 (Ext. 1039) / (D) 304.414.9001                /                      

300 Summers Street, Suite 700

Charleston, West Virginia 25301


James M. Becker  


Lewis Glasser PLLC   

(O) 304.345.2000 (Ext. 1014) / (D) 304.414.9014                 /                       

300 Summers Street, Suite 700

Charleston, West Virginia 25301


Lewis Glasser PLLC

304-345-2000 /

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Lewis Glasser PLLC, 300 Summers Street, Suite 700, Charleston, West Virginia 25301