W.Va., S.C., Ariz., follow Texas, Miss. lead in reopening
UPDATED 9:40 AM PT – Saturday, March 6, 2021
Following Texas and Mississippi’s successful reopening strategies, several other Republican states hope to follow suit.
To start, on Friday West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) made the announcement that his state is easing some COVID-19 restrictions as cases of the virus decline. Restaurants and bars will now be able to seat at full capacity.
Today I announced new guidelines for several different businesses and groups:
✔️lifting capacity restrictions for some businesses
✔️increasing the social gathering limit
✔️permitting more youth travel sports
Read more from today’s press briefing ⬇️https://t.co/WUQ5ESFCtj
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 6, 2021
Capacity limits will also be rolled back on other businesses that still have restrictions, including gyms, fitness centers, retail stores and museums. Social distancing is still encouraged and the state’s mask mandate will remain in place.
In the meantime, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) lifted statewide mask mandates on Friday for restaurants and government buildings. He too cited the state’s declining COVID-19 cases and increased vaccination efforts.
McMaster’s executive order rescinded efforts by the federal government to enforce mask mandates in government facilities. The move will give administrative officials and restaurant owners the freedom to enforce their own guidelines to curb any further spread of COVID-19.
“We only have a couple things left and I was working on the executive order on the way over here,” McMaster said. “We don’t need those any more we’ve worked through all of it.”
Last month, McMaster lifted restrictions on in-person gatherings of more than 250 people and late night alcohol sales.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) also announced he’s lifting capacity limits on restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, water parks and bowling alleys. Further, the order will allow Major League Baseball to hold Spring Training.
Our latest guidance continues that approach. Today, I’m issuing an Executive Order that expires occupancy limits on businesses in Arizona, while preserving the distancing and masking mitigation measures that our businesses have successfully implemented in this pandemic. 4/5
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 5, 2021
In addition, it will prevent municipal leaders from implementing any strict public health measures that could lead to business closures.
State health officials are optimistic after seeing a seven week decline in cases and the distribution of more than two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
“So I work very closely with the governor’s team on these mitigation strategies, and really felt that the mitigation strategies that we had outlined in our documents for each of those individual establishments could be maintained without the capacity limits,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said.
While a statewide mask mandate was never imposed in Arizona, local government restrictions and social distancing requirements will remain unchanged.