N.C. Gov. Cooper issues modified ‘Stay at Home’ order with new restrictions as COVID-19 trends worsen

N.C.'s modified Stay at Home order goes into effect

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gov. Roy Cooper announced new restrictions Tuesday as North Carolina continues to see record-high coronavirus numbers.

The governor announced that a modified “Stay at Home” order, Executive Order 181, begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11. These restrictions will last until 5 p.m. on Jan. 8.

“This modified stay at home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays,” Cooper said. “It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the days -- wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from people we don’t live with and washing our hands a lot.”

Cooper said the order will require people to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Most businesses will be required to close by 10 p.m. Cooper said onsite alcohol consumption sales must end at 9 p.m.

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Establishments that are subject to this order include amusement parks and amusement transportation; bars, lounges, indoor venues, and arenas; fitness and physical activity facilities, movie theaters, meeting spaces, and other entertainment facilities; museums and aquariums; parks; personal care businesses; restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries; and certain retail businesses.

Retail businesses that sell groceries, medication, health care supplies, and fuel may remain open between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Service at restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries may continue for take-out and delivery after 10 p.m. Customers may enter restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to pick up take-out orders after 10 p.m.

The restrictions do not apply to work travel, grocery shopping, seeking medical attention, other essential services, caring for loved ones, traveling in/out of state, religious services and anyone homeless.

Movies, live entertainment performances, and entertainment events must cease or pause no later than 10 p.m.

There is an exception to the 10 p.m. cut-off time for professional and collegiate athletic events that are already scheduled during the effective period of this order.

Third-party delivery services, such as Instacart, UberEats and DoorDash may continue to operate during the Night-Time Closure Period. Employees of these businesses may report to and from work and perform work duties as required by their employer during the Stay at Home Period.

NC Governor issues new stay at home order

“With these additional actions, we hope to get our numbers down,” Cooper said. “Our top priority is, and must be, saving lives and keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. This is truly a matter of life or death.”

What are the major changes under this Order?

Under this Order:

  • Certain businesses and facilities are ordered to close to the public between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. (the “Night-Time Public Closure Period”). This includes restaurants (with exceptions for take-out and delivery), bars, entertainment venues, parks, museums and aquariums, certain retail establishments, and other businesses and facilities specified below and in the Order.
  • All individuals in North Carolina must stay at home or the place they will remain for the night between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. (the “Stay at Home Period”), unless an exception applies.
  • The sale and service of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for on-site consumption between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Events or convenings outside of the home must end by 10:00 p.m. and guests must leave the establishment and travel home or to the place where they will stay for the night.
  • The capacity limitations on certain businesses, indoor and outdoor gathering limits, and other public health measures implemented by previous executive orders are extended through January 8, 2021.

What remains the same under this Order?

Under this Order:

  • The gathering limits remain at ten (10) individuals for indoor settings and fifty (50) individuals for outdoor settings.
  • The limitations on certain businesses, sanitation standards, and other public health restrictions outlined in the Phase 3 Executive Order and NCDHHS Guidance remain in effect.
  • A face covering is still required in all public indoor settings if there are nonhousehold members present, regardless of the individual’s ability to maintain social distance. Face coverings continue to be required in public outdoor settings if individuals are unable to maintain six feet of social distance from non-household members.
  • Retail business locations with more than 15,000 square feet of interior space must continue to have a worker at each entrance open to the public, who is responsible for enforcing the executive orders’ face covering and capacity limitations.

This order does not close a business completely as establishments may remain open during the Night-Time Public Closure Period for workers, and may otherwise conduct their business and operations, as long as no guests are admitted onto the premises.

Patrons who refuse to exit an establishment after being asking to leave may be subject to criminal trespass prosecution.

If a worker’s presence is required by his or her employer, that worker may remain on the premises and conduct their normal business operations during the Night-Time Public Closure Period, as long as no clients or customers are permitted onto the premises. Individuals may leave their home or place where they are staying to travel to or from work.

Workplace events and functions that are outside of normal business operations must cease between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Individuals are not required to show documentation that they fall within an exception to the Stay at Home Order.

Using or providing shared transportation services, such as taxicabs, ride share services, buses, and trains, is not prohibited during the Stay at Home Period.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this order.

“North Carolina trends are alarming,” Cooper said. “The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness like we haven’t seen before.”

The governor also said more restrictions could be in order if COVID-19 trends don’t improve.

“We will do more if our trends do not improve,” Cooper said. “None of us want that.”

Tuesday, the state reported its 11th straight day of record-high coronavirus hospitalizations at 2,373. There are currently 404,032 coronavirus cases in North Carolina and 5,605 virus-related deaths.

The new county alert system set up by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that 48 counties in North Carolina are designated as red, which is the most severe, meaning there is critical community spread.

More than 30 other counties are in orange, meaning they have a substantial community spread. NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says that more than 80 percent of North Carolina’s counties are in the worst two categories for COVID-19 spread.

The executive order aimed at strengthening the state’s mask mandate is set to expire at 5 p.m. Friday, December 11. Executive Order No. 180 went into effect at 5 p.m. November 25.

“Our statewide mask requirement has been in effect since June and it is still our best weapon in this fight,” Cooper said during a press conference when issuing the order. “Today’s executive order will further tighten that mandate, making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with.” Cooper called the moment “pivotal” in the fight against coronavirus.

The mandate, signed before Thanksgiving, means residents should even be wearing masks at home when friends or family are visiting.

Some of the biggest changes to the stricter mask guidelines affect businesses.

The order requires people to wear a mask while they’re exercising, both inside and outside, unless you are able to safely maintain at least six feet distance from others outside. If that is the case, you do not need to wear a face-covering when exercising outdoors.

The order also said customers should wear masks while at their table at a restaurant unless they are actively eating or drinking. Previous orders allowed for customers to keep them off if they were sitting down at the table.

The order requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

It gives local police departments authority to cite those not adhering to the mask mandate. In response, CMPD put out the following statement:

“The updated Order grants the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department the discretion to cite individual citizens for violation of the mask mandate. The CMPD will continue to manage COVID related complaints on a case by case basis. Every complaint is vetted for an appropriate response. The CMPD will continue to work to reach voluntary cooperation with each member of the community through education and conversations, only resorting to citations as a last-measure. This has been the CMPD’s approach to consistent enforcement of the Order, and it will remain so until the Order is rescinded. It’s encouraging to note that CMPD continues to receive a tremendous level of cooperation from the community, and we’re very grateful for the unified efforts during this time.”

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