BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – On Friday Governor Justice announced an executive order that lifts restrictions on businesses and schools due to the state now having fewer than 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. Restaurants and bars can now increase seating capacity from 50-percent to 75-percent, while retail shops and grocery stores will be able to double the number of customers per square foot in their establishments. Many local businesses are reacting to the mandate in slightly different ways, but their ultimate goal seems to be just keeping their customers safe.
“We plan to ease into it as it goes. We do plan to take it to 75-percent if necessary, but our main goal is still to keep our customers as comfortable and as well of an experience as they can have when they come to dine in,” says local business owner Julian Ayala.
While many local establishments may have already adjusted their policies in coordination with the governor’s new executive order, others are continuing to abide by their own regulations that they have maintained throughout the course of the pandemic.
“So we have changed a lot of things like right now we are still at half capacity. It hasn’t changed as far as how many people he’s upped that you can allow so far. In the future, we may allow more, but as of now we are sticking to half capacity,” says Pottery Place sales associate Alexa Head.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many establishments have been successful at keeping their business despite operating at half capacity, simply by just making some minor adjustments. Restaurants have been able to maintain much of their business through carry-out and to-go orders.
“A lot of the carry-outs were keeping us busy and keeping us going between those couple months, and then once we opened up to 50-percent capacity, our carry-outs still maintained pretty high. They were at least 25 to 30-percent of our complete sales. So, that really helps the restaurants keep their business growing the way they want it to.”
So, although local businesses have been coping well with operating on a more limited basis, the new 75-percent capacity order will only help them recover even more from the COVID-19 pandemic.