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Texas Roadhouse employees prepare curbside to-go orders on March 24, 2020, in Huntington. Though more and more restaurants are riding out the pandemic with shuttered doors, many are keeping kitchens open for delivery and takeout. The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is in constant contact with those remaining restaurants to ensure they know the most current recommendations to keep staff and the public safe.

HUNTINGTON — As businesses plan to reopen following West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s announced plan to economic recovery on Monday, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is offering help on how to do it.

“The Cabell-Huntington Health Department, along with community partners, has developed a ‘Business and Economic Community Transition’ document for Cabell County and the City of Huntington,” said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. “This document serves as a framework for an appropriate and reasonable process whereby our community can reopen its businesses in accordance with federal and state guidelines and ensure as much mitigation of the transfer of COVID-19 as possible.

“It’s one thing to say when to reopen, but another thing is how to reopen,” Kilkenny said. “This serves as an outline of the issues and lists of things to consider in preparation for reopening.”

To view an online copy of the transition document, visit www.cabellhealth.org.

The document addresses COVID-19 health education that businesses need to know, ways to obtain and sustain delivery of protective supplies, and developing appropriate policies and procedures. It also goes over state guidelines already in effect.

John McKenna, owner of Hometown Sportswear in Barboursville, said his business has complied with state guidelines and closed the retail part of the store.

“However, we are continuing to work with our customers with the custom screen-printing and embroidery orders,” he said. “Business has been understandably slower than normal with the retail shutdown. As a business owner, nothing would make me happier than to see West Virginia businesses return to some sort of normalcy.

“I think that most everyone that has been cooped up in their homes are itching to get out and be a part of society again. With that said, we will comply with the governor’s and the Cabell Health Department’s guidelines to ensure the safety of our customers and employees.”

Kilkenny said most businesses want to open and stay open.

“They don’t want to open, then have to close back,” he said.

Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Bissett said the area’s business community already has faced closing temporarily or augmenting their business model to function in a way that protects customers and employees.

“It is a chapter in our region’s history that we all hope ends to some degree sooner than later,” he said.

Bissett believes jump-starting the state’s economy will have its own risks, challenges and, yes, failures.

“But we will also see innovation, opportunity and collaboration,” he said. “Not unlike many did during the necessary quarantine, businesses who modify themselves to meet the changed needs of their customers and clients will find success, but those who do not run the risk of never returning to where they were before the pandemic. This risk can be managed through careful planning, innovation, use of credible information, and, perhaps most of all, patience as we move into what will be the new normal.”

The plan was developed by the health department with consultation and communication from the City of Huntington and the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said.

“The Health Department is basing these decisions on data and science, and it’s important that we trust our health care professionals,” Williams said.

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