01 Apr Cooper issues stay home order | News
As of 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, North Carolinians must remain at their homes except for “performing essential work and essential activities” under an order signed March 27 by Gov. Roy Cooper to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order is valid through April 29.
Also under the order, all businesses or other operations not among those listed as “essential” are closed and all mass gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
The order says gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed at funerals, but this exception wasn’t included in a prohibition on mass gatherings of 10 or more people approved March 25 by the mayors of Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and Ronda.
A question and answer section on the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website said local orders must be followed if more restrictive.
The Q&A said religious gatherings are subject to the mass gathering ban and therefore may not have over 10 people. They’re also subject to the prohibition on gatherings of 10 or more in the three Wilkes towns.
The Q&A said weddings and group counseling sessions may not have over 10 people.
The Q&A said Cooper is seeking voluntary cooperation with the order but “if voluntary cooperation is not achieved, state and local law enforcement officers have the authority to enforce the order.” Violation of the order is a class 2 misdemeanor.
The Q&A said people can go to public parks and outdoor recreation areas while following social distancing and mass gathering guidelines, but public playgrounds and equipment there are closed. The Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and Ronda town parks are closed under local orders announced March 25.
The Q&A also said that under the order, people may leave their homes:
• to care for a family member or friend or help them get essential goods or receive necessary health care;
• receive necessary medical care;
• for outdoor recreational activity. Group exercise is allowed if no more than 10 people are present;
• if a residence is unsafe, people are urged to leave and stay at a safe alternate location;
• visit a hospital or other healthcare facility for health care services and supplies. No visits to health care or long term care facilities are allowed unless it’s for an end-of-life visit.
The order defines “essential activities” as those needed:
• for the health and safety of people and pets;
• to obtain supplies like groceries and household consumer products and those related to working from home and for autos;
• to perform work at businesses authorized to remain open under the order or carry out activities allowed under the order;
• to care for or transport a family member, friend or pet, including for weddings and funerals;
• to travel to and from places of worship;
• to receive goods and services provided by an essential business or operation;
• to travel between one’s residence for child custody or visitation arrangements;
• to volunteer with organizations that provide charitable and social services.
“Essential businesses, operations”
Businesses and operations listed as essential in the order don’t need documentation to continue operations and their employees don’t need documentation to report to work, the Q&A said.
The Q&A said businesses required to close can continue “minimum basic operations.” These include “activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’s inventory; preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment; ensure security; process payroll and employee benefits, or related functions; and activities to support employees working remotely.”
The order lists about 30 categories of “essential businesses and operations,” which mean they can remain open. They are:
• healthcare and public health operations, including for veterinary care;
• human services operations;
• infrastructure operations, including construction, utilities, flood control, solid waste and recycling collections, video and telecommunication systems and others;
• food and beverage production, distribution, fulfillment centers, storage facilities;
• construction operations;
• governmental operations, as determined by each government body. (Doesn’t apply to federal government operations;)
• stores selling groceries and medicine;
• food, beverage production and ag operations, including farming, livestock, fishing, forestry and other production agriculture. It also includes baking;
• those providing charitable and social services;
• religious entities;
• media, including newspapers, TV, radio, film and other media services;
• gas stations and other businesses needed for transportation;
• those that provide food, shelter, services and other necessities for animals, including animal shelters, rescues, kennels and adoption facilities;
• financial and insurance institutions;
• home improvement, hardware and supply stores;
• building and construction tradesmen;
• mail, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services;
• educational institutions, but the order doesn’t supersede an earlier closure of public schools;
• laundromats, dry cleaners and industrial laundry services;
• restaurants or other operations for food consumption off-premises;
• those selling, manufacturing or supplying products needed for people to work from home or what other essential businesses and operations need to operate;
• public and private transportation services;
• home-based care, services, facilities or shelters;
• professional services, like legal, accounting, insurance, engineering, architectural, surveying, real estate and tax preparation services;
• manufacturers, distributors and other firms producing and supplying essential products and services;
• defense and military contractors;
• retailers selling or servicing cell phones, computers and other communications technology;
• lawn and garden equipment stores;
• book stores selling educational materials;
• beer, wine and liquor stores;
• retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
• pet and feed stores.
Although not mentioned in Cooper’s order, the Q&A said gun stores and golf courses implementing social distancing requirements for employees and customers as defined in the order may remain open.