UPDATE: Cooper orders North Carolinians to stay home

News, State & National
Cooper census extension

RALEIGH, N.C. – On Friday, March 27, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive order 121 instructing North Carolinians to remain in their homes except for essential activities and essential work. The order takes effect on Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m. and ends on April 29, but can be extended or lifted early.

This is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep local hospitals from being overwhelmed with infected patients.

Essential businesses include grocery stores, restaurants – take out and drive-thru only, ABC stores, healthcare providers, pharmacies, hardware stores, post offices, office supply stores, gas stations, convenience stores, veterinarians, pet supply stores, hotels, airlines, public transit, places of worship, child care providers that follow NCDHHS guidelines.

Individuals should stay in their residence except for essential activities, such as grocery shopping, medication, medical appointments, exercise – not in groups larger than 10, essential jobs, etc. At this time, Cooper is seeking voluntary cooperation from the public but can instate law enforcement protocols if necessary.

Social interaction should be limited. People can visit family members to help take care of their medical needs.

People can still go to parks if they remain open.

Businesses that aren’t listed as essential, but owners believe it is to the community, can apply for an exemption with the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Click here to read FAQs about the order.

Update from March 23 below:

Almost a week after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered restaurants to close all in-dining services, he has issued another order instructing all salons and gyms to close. The Monday, March 23rd conference also told the public that public K-12 schools will remain closed until May 15.

Schools will continue to offer remote instruction until the May date when the situation will be reevaluated.

A list of businesses closing on Wednesday, March 25 at 5 p.m. include gyms, salons, nail salons, barbershops, health clubs, movie theaters, and sweepstakes parlors. Casinos in the state closed last week.

Grocery stores remain open as do restaurants with curbside, takeout, delivery, or drive-thru options. Cooper urged North Carolinians to only buy what they need at the store and leave goods for others who might need it.

New updates and directives are as follows per Executive Order:

Mass Gatherings = 50+ Persons

The new Executive Order modifies Executive Order 117 to limit mass gatherings to no more than 50 people [was 100 people]. Section 1. a.1. of Executive Order 120 provides that a mass gathering is defined as any “event or convening that brings together more than fifty (50) persons in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space . . . [and includes] parades, fairs and festivals.” Not included in the definition of mass gatherings are normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, shopping malls and shopping centers. It also does not include office environments, factories, grocery stores and child care facilities.

If a church gathering has a coordinated event or convening for more than 50, such gathering would be prohibited under Section 1(a). If a church has more than 50 employees and they come to work, that would fall within the exemption of Section 1(b) because it functions as an office environment.

If a wedding ceremony or reception has more than 50 attendees, that activity would be prohibited under Section 1(a).

A funeral home can continue to conduct retail business in assisting clients with funeral arrangements. However, a funeral that has more than 50 attendees would be prohibited under Section 1(a).

The Executive Order provides that the above restriction on mass gatherings is a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be enforced by State and local law enforcement officers.

Entertainment Facilities
Section 1.b. of Executive Order 120 requires the closure of entertainment facilities without a retail or dining component. Entertainment facilities that must close include bowling alleys, health clubs, indoor/outdoor pools, skating rinks, indoor exercise facilities, movie theaters, spas, bingo parlors, and gaming establishments.

Gaming establishments that must close include any “gaming and business establishments which allow gaming activities (e.g. video poker, gaming, sweepstakes, video games, arcade games, pinball machines or other computer, electronic or mechanical devices played for amusement.)” A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

If any of these entertainment facilities have a retail or dining component, those may continue to operate within current emergency restrictions. For example, if a spa has a deli or sandwich shop, they can continue to provide take-out food service to customers. In addition, if a health club has a gift shop, they can continue to sell T-shirts and other items from that retail gift shop.

Personal Care and Grooming Businesses
Section 1.c. also requires the closure of personal care and grooming businesses. This includes barber shops, beauty salons, hair salons, nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Long Term Care Visitation Limitations
Executive Order 120 places restrictions on patient visitation in long term care facilities. For a more detailed description of this provision, please view the Executive Order.

Continued School Closure
All public schools are closed through Friday, May 15, 2020.

Original article from March 12 below:

In a March 12, 2020 press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper asked North Carolinians to stay away from gatherings of 100 people or more as Coronavirus cases continue to grow throughout the state.

The voluntary measures apply to conferences, assemblies, sporting events, concerts, and worship services. Cooper also stated these protocols could become mandatory if no one followed through with his suggestions.

Employers are also encouraged to allow employees to work from home.

Cooper willing to put mandatory measures in place if the public doesn’t follow through.

The measures go into effect on Friday, March 13.

“Although North Carolina has not seen as much widespread infection as some other states, I want to provide stronger statewide guidance now,” explained Cooper. “Health experts believe that it will protect the health and safety of North Carolinians and help prevent further spread of the virus. I strongly urge all North Carolinians to follow it and take it seriously.”

Don’t close schools just yet

One call to action differing from much of the rest of the county, state government isn’t calling for preemptive school closings. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen expanded upon the reasoning during the press conference.

She listed multiple reasons, including children tend to gather other places when not in school, one of which is grandparent’s homes – who are labeled as high risk for catching the virus. Also, many children depend on free or reduced breakfast and lunch as their only meals throughout the school year.

“Those are all significant things that contribute to children’s health, and we want to make sure we’re thinking about that,” Cohen stated.

However, childcare and schools are recommended to cancel or reduce large extracurricular activities or events.

Cohen explained why schools should stay open for now.

Several universities in the state have moved to online classes, but students can remain on campus for now.

Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina last week. As of Thursday, the state had 16 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The new cases were reported in Wake, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Forsyth and Johnston counties.

Images courtesy of N.C. government.


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