Liquor stores open only to state residents in parts of northern West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the Brooke County Board of Health joined their counterparts in both Hancock County and Monongalia County with a Monday decision to ban liquor sales to anyone without a West Virginia identification until further notice.

Other counties in northern West Virginia were expected to follow suit, according to Jackie Huff, administrator for the Hancock County Health Department.

Since Pennsylvania closed its state-owned liquor stores on March 16 as part of a larger effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19, a respiratory illness, “We were finding extreme lines coming out of the liquor stores,” Huff said.

In some cases, Huff said, those lines stretched for blocks and store owners needed help with enforcement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for social distancing, keeping people separated by at least six feet.

“We’re literally a minute from either border of Ohio or Pennsylvania,” Huff said. “Our main purpose (with the ban) is to protect the county residents from the huge lines that are taking place.”

As of Monday morning, Huff said seven cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Hancock County.

In Pennsylvania, state officials reported more than 11,510 confirmed cases on Monday morning with at least 150 deaths.

Monongalia County’s limits on sales of spirits and hard liquor to state residents only took effect over the weekend.

Additionally, stores in Monongalia County were only permitted to sell three items per customer each day.

Non-compliance could mean forced closures.

The ban took effect at 12 p.m. Monday in both Hancock County and Brooke County.

It applied to liquor stores, retail outlets or other merchants with specifically-designated sections of stores for the sale of spirits or liquor.

Only essential employees were to be working, the orders said.

One worker was supposed to be placed outside to ensure only those with West Virginia driver’s licenses or other valid state IDs entered.

Inside, distances of six feet were to be maintained between customers and those workers at all times using floor markings or tape at cash registers or other places where people congregated.

No more than ten people were allowed in stores at a time, including staff.

Additional sanitation steps were required as well.

“I’m hoping with the social distancing and the stay-at-home (order from Governor Jim Justice) that people are taking it very seriously and that we will have a smaller limit and flatten that curve for Hancock County,” Huff said.

“I don’t know that we won’t be getting any more cases at present but I hope those numbers turn out to be very low.”

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