3/27/20: GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES 30-DAY STATEWIDE STAY AT HOME ORDER, STARTING MONDAY AT 5 p.m.; TRAVEL MUST BE FOR ESSENTIAL SERVICES, SUPPLIES ONLY

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Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for 30 days—until April 29—starting Monday at 5 p.m., in order to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Like Dare County’s “Stay Home-Stay Healthy” declaration issued earlier today, the Governor’s Executive Order No. 121 provides for people to leave home and travel only for essential activities; for essential businesses to continue to operate; for mass gatherings to be limited to 10 people; and for the strict observation of physical (social) distancing by people when they are using shared or outdoor spaces away from their residences.

Because they are time-sensitive, funerals are not subject to the 10-person restriction on mass gatherings. Fifty people may attend a funeral, and they should practice physical distancing.

The Beacon prefers the term, physical distancing, which public-health scientists endorse, to social distancing. Both refer to a person not standing any closer than six feet to another person.

“To continue our aggressive battle against COVID-19, I have signed a Stay at Home Order for the entire state of North Carolina,” the Governor said in a press release.

“Though it is difficult we must do this to slow the disease spread. We need our medical system to be able to care for the friends and family we know will become seriously ill from the virus.”

The Governor said three North Carolinians have died as a result of COVID-19, and the state currently has 763 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 60 of its 100 counties. North Carolina is considered to have widespread community transmission of the virus, meaning many people who test positive for it cannot trace the source of their infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today a total of 85,356 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 1,246 deaths.

For the text of Executive Order No. 121, see: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO121-Stay-at-Home-Order-3.pdf.

For a list of frequently asked questions about the executive order, see: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/200327_FAQ-SAH-Order_FINAL.pdf.

If you do not think your business is included in the essential services list in the executive order, and you believe it should be, you may apply online with the N.C. Dept. of Revenue for it to be designated essential. Go to https://www.ncdor.gov/home/ncdor-actions-covid-19/covid-19-essential-businesses.

Until your exemption is reviewed, you may operate your business as long as you can accommodate physical distancing in your workplace.

Executive Order No. 121 is valid for 30 days, but it can be revised or extended.

Governor Cooper is seeking voluntary cooperation from all state residents and businesses. If this cooperation is not achieved, state and local law enforcement officers have the authority to enforce the order.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/27/20

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