CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia followed new federal guidance in excluding fully vaccinated people Friday from the statewide mask mandate.
Gov. Jim Justice praised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for issuing guidance Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most cases.
“It's a good day. It's a great day,” the Republican governor said.
The mask mandate will still apply to those who are not fully vaccinated until June 20, the date Justice has set for lifting the requirement.
He added that “you do not have a constitutional right not to wear a mask,” and that private businesses and schools may still require one. Several national major chains, including Home Depot and grocer Kroger Co., announced that they would keep mask mandates in place for now.
Justice also announced the state will end its additional pandemic-era boost for unemployment benefits on June 19, including the additional $300 a week for those without a job.
He said the state is considering a program that would pay a $1,000 bonus for unemployed people who go back to work. It would require the employer agreeing to pay half of the bonus, with the state covered the other half.
“West Virginians will have access to thousands of jobs right now," he said. "And we need everybody back to work. Our small business and economy depends on it so much.”