|Hours after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced a revamped mask requirement, the governor issued a second statement doubling down on the mandate.|
Justice said he knows West Virginians are tired of the pandemic, but warned that not wearing a mask is a violation of the law.
Thousands of West Virginians have taken to social media deriding his order, with President Donald Trump downplaying the virus for months, deriding the nation's epidemiologists and leaving the 50 states to come up with their own plans to fight it. Many of those states have made political decisions rather than follow pandemic science.
“I know, eight months into this pandemic, we are all tired and frustrated. I don’t like wearing a mask just as much as you, and I surely don’t want to see our fellow West Virginians in violation of the law,” Justice said in a news release.
“However, no one has the right to risk anyone else’s health. If you feel that you don’t want to wear a mask, then the answer is simple: don't go into businesses or any other public buildings and risk harming your fellow West Virginians.”
Justice said there are penalties for residents not wearing masks or businesses not enforcing the mask requirement.
“If a business asks you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are violating the law. If a police officer orders you to put on a mask or leave, and you refuse to do so, you are also violating the law,” he said. “If a police officer orders a business to enforce our indoor face covering requirement, and they refuse to do so, the business is violating the law. There are real penalties for these violations.”
The governor also said he was aware that his phone number has been shared online by some who are unhappy with the decision.
“Finally, if some people are angry, and think it’s funny to retaliate and post my phone number online, that’s fine,” Justice said. “The inconvenience is well worth it if we save just one life.”
The updated indoor face covering requirement will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.