CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — As with many states, high school football is nearly sacred in West Virginia. After promising to announce a decision earlier in the week, Gov. Jim Justice delivered Friday. He announced all fall sports could begin practicing on Aug. 17. Most sports can start games on Sept. 2, with football kicking off games the next night.

“It’s the Thursday night prior to that first week of school. We think it’s a great way to bring the community back together. Everybody will be in full-swing by the time we walk into school on that next Tuesday,” said Bernie Dolan, of the WV Secondary Schools Activities Commission.

Fans will be allowed, but they must wear masks and social distance. There could also be crowd size limits. Meanwhile, with a surge of cases in Monongalia County, the Governors says there could be restrictions that are put back in place there, and elsewhere.

“We have to be looking at now, closing the bars. We have to be looking at now, closing indoor dining,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

All of this is because West Virginia, has now seen a sharp spike in new positive cases, and the rate of spread has increased.

“The virus is spreading faster per person in West Virginia, right now, than any other state in the country,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia COVID-19 Czar.

Meanwhile, the governor encouraged small businesses to begin applying for $5,000 grants, from a pool of $150 million in federal aid. The guidelines are on the Governor’s website.

“The Governor said today that if people don’t start complying with his mandatory mask order, he might call the legislature back for special session to consider a bill that includes fines and penalties for those who don’t comply,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.