Governor Cooper announced at his 4 p.m press conference that there will be a statewide stay-at-home order in effect Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m., through April 29. Only essential businesses will be allowed to open:
- Restaurants that provide take-out, drive-thru, or delivery
- Grocery stores
- ABC stores and beer and wine stores
- Doctors and other healthcare providers
- Hardware stores
- Post offices
- Office supply stores
- Gas stations and convenience stores
- Veterinarians and pet supply stores
- Hotels, airlines, buses, taxis, and rideshare services
- Places of worship
- Child care providers (that are following the required NCDHHS procedures)
Officials hope the stay-at-home order helps flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic and stops the burden on NC’s healthcare systems. Governor Cooper called it necessary to also protect many healthcare providers who are overextended currently.
As of 11 a.m. today 763 cases are confirmed in NC, with three deaths, 15,136 tests submitted and 77 patients hospitalized. New Hanover County announced six new positive cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total positive count to 21 county-wide.
“I think it’s pretty clear across the board, people not coming into contact with one another helps slow the spread,” Governor Cooper said. He and his administration have been tracking data worldwide and making adjustments in the hope less people get sick simultaneously in NC. Citizens will be able to leave their home for groceries, medicine, to exercise and/or to help someone, and they can’t congregate in gatherings larger than 10 while the executive order is in place. Governor Cooper made it effective Monday so folks have a chance to get their affairs in order, but he encourages everyone to start right now.
Violations of the order are a class two misdemeanor. The governor hopes NC citizens take the order seriously and follow rules willingly. However, the executive order has been provided to law enforcement, who will encourage people to abide. If officers find people violating it conspicuously, the governor says they’re within their right to enforce it under the law.
If and when the order is lifted permanently or extended will be in accordance to numerous factors for the safety of public health: Is the healthcare system running safely, with enough beds, enough supplies, enough doctors and nurses, enough tests, enough healthy citizens not disseminating the virus? “But that’s a ways off,” Governor Cooper clarified. “I think most public health officials will tell you we will be at this for awhile.”
North Carolinians can call 211 with any questions related to the coronavirus or to receive assistance.
UPDATE: Republican Senator Thom Tillis weighed in on the governor’s decision:
“We are all in this together, and in order to protect the health of North Carolinians and get through this crisis as quickly as possible, we must all do our part to contain community spread over the next several weeks. I’ve had discussions with Governor Cooper about the challenge of protecting both the physical and economic health of the state, and the Governor made the difficult, but correct decision to issue a statewide stay-at-home order.”
To read the full executive order, click here.
Ongoing updates will be made to this story as information is made available to media.