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Justice addresses confusion over re-openings for tanning beds, gyms

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (Photo courtesy of the WV Governor’s Office)

CHARLESTON — As businesses begin to reopen their doors to the public, it’s not always clear what can or can not reopen.

Gov. Jim Justice tried to address those concerns this week during his daily coronavirus briefings from the Capitol.

On Wednesday, Justice gave the green light for tanning beds to re-open starting Thursday, May 21. Tanning beds will join indoor dining (up to 50 percent of the capacity of the restaurant), large specialty retail stores, state park campgrounds (in-state guests only), outdoor recreation rentals, spectator-less outdoor motorsport and the Hatfield and McCoy Trail System for week four of Justice’s reopening plan.

Justice said Wednesday that his office has received numerous calls about whether tanning beds could re-open. Barbers, hair and nail salons were allowed to reopen May 4. Some tanning businesses had already reopened as a result.

“I never dreamed in all my life that we’d get all these calls in regard to tanning businesses and tanning beds,” Justice said. “Our medical experts now feel like we’re good to go, and we’re going to bring (tanning beds) up online…with a lot of the other stuff we already had scheduled.”

The confusion of tanning beds joined confusion over whether gyms can reopen. As of Monday, drive-in movie theaters and wellness centers operated by or with state-licensed health care providers were allowed to reopen. These are centers that offer physical therapy, post-operative therapy and rehabilitation therapy or centers employing physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners and physician” assistants licensed to practice in West Virginia.

The distinction has allowed some gyms that are affiliated with physical therapy businesses — such as SNAP Fitness and Generations Physical Therapy with franchises in Kanawha, Putnam, and Cabell counties — to reopen, smaller gyms have had to keep their doors closed. Justice addressed this issue Tuesday, saying all gyms will be open soon.

“To be perfectly honest, when we put out the original guideline…the gyms were closed unless it was under the supervision of medical personnel because…people who need the gym for rehab, we’re OK with that,” Justice said. “To be perfectly honest, we were pushing the envelope there further than I probably intended for it to be pushed. But I’m very hopeful we’re going to remedy the situation with the gyms and get back into the gyms as soon as we possibly can.”

The state has released guidance for businesses and entities through week five, when state park cabins and lodges reopen for in-state guests. Additional guidance for other businesses, such as whitewater rafting and malls, is still being developed. Justice encouraged businesses that remain closed to take advantage of programs through the federal C.A.R.E.S. Act, such as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“If you’re one of the businesses or whatever out there that is still kind of closed, I would ask that you please try to be patient,” Justice said. “We’re working it and working it and working it as diligently as we possibly can.”

Steven Allen Adams can be reached at sadams@newsandsentinel.com.

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