CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s tourism industry could take a great hit after the most recent development in a series of business-related closures around the state.
In a news conference Friday, Justice announced the closing of all state park lodges and the Hatfield-McCoy Trails system in an effort to bar out-of-state tourists and curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Justice said 69% of all visitors to state park lodges come from outside the Mountain State and more than 80% of Hatfield-McCoy Trail riders are not West Virginia residents.
The lodge closures come a day after an order that closed all barbershops and hair and nail salons in the state. Justice also signed an executive order extending DMV, vehicle inspection and business license deadlines.
Amid the lodge closures, the governor encouraged people to get outside and enjoy the spring-like weather that has moved into the area.
“We’ve got to close the lodges. It doesn’t mean we’re closing down our parks, campsites or cabins,” Justice said.
After issuing the order, the governor encouraged residents to get outside and enjoy the space the state parks provide by hiking, biking or fishing.
“We want people to get out … and enjoy the outdoors and get away from each other,” he said.
Trout will continue to be stocked in lakes and streams throughout the state, adding that to stop stocking the fish would be the “silliest thing” he’s heard of, pointing out that there would be nowhere else to put the fish that are set to be released.