Stay at Home
North Carolina is under a "Safer at Home" recommendation to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina will take a cautious step toward Phase Two of its reopening plan, effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22nd. Phase Two lifts the Stay At Home order and moves the state into a “Safer At Home” recommendation, especially for people at high risk for serious illness. See the Press Release issued on May 21st: Orange County Moves to "Safer at Home" Phase Two (Español, Chinese)
The Orange County Emergency Declaration differs from the state order by:
- Requiring restaurant, personal care, grooming, tattoo and retail employees and staff to wear a face covering while on duty. This requirement does not apply to people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering, people who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition, and people who are under twelve years of age.
- Recommending that all businesses require customers to wear a face covering while inside the business.
- Tables at restaurants are limited to no more than six people (the state order allows up to 10). However, more than six people may sit together at the same table if they are members of the same household.
- Clarifying that meetings of public bodies (such as elected or appointed boards, commissions or councils) are limited to no more than 10 people indoors. Worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings, and funerals are exempt from this restriction
More information is available in the tabs below.
The state stay at home order is intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals and keep first responders safe.
At 5 p.m. May 22, the state entered Phase 2 of easing restrictions imposed by earlier orders. Key differences between earlier restrictions and Phase 2 include:
- Additional businesses are allowed to be open.
- Restaurants allowed at 50% capacity and with cleaning, social distancing, and face coverings for employees and staff. Table seating limited to no more than 6 people; more than 6 may sit together at the same table if they are members of the same household.
- Barbers, Salons, and Personal Care businesses allowed at 50% capacity and with cleaning, social distancing, and face coverings for employees and staff
- Residents are able to leave home for any commercial activity.
- Retail businesses allowed at 50% capacity and with cleaning, social distancing, and face coverings for employees and staff.
- Outdoor gatherings of 25 or fewer people and indoor gatherings of 10 or fewer people are allowed with appropriate social distancing measures.
- Childcare centers are able to open.
- Parks that were closed to prevent gatherings may open (playgrounds will remain closed). Check websites for specifics as local rules may vary.
Phase 1 of the reopening plan allows more businesses to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and other retailers. Businesses should see the news release on reopening guidelines for additional information.
Any open stores must provide education to employees to combat misinformation and implement:
- Appropriate employee and consumer social distancing.
- Enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols.
- Symptom screening of employees.
- Accommodations for vulnerable workers.
The state has placed the following restrictions on businesses under the stay at home order:
- Certain businesses must remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, takeout and delivery.
- Places of business are allowed to have inside 50% of the occupancy limits posted by the fire marshal or up to 12 people per 1,000 square feet. The emergency maximum occupancy must be posted in a conspicuous place. If the business expects to reach that level of occupancy, it must post sufficient staff at entrances and exits to enforce the limit.
- Retail businesses are required to mark 6-foot social distancing spacing for customers at checkouts and other locations where there is an expectation of high numbers of people congregating or waiting in line, including outside the business.
- Retail establishments are required to perform frequent and routine cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
- Teleworking is encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
- Additional business guidance and resources are available in the documents below and on the state’s COVID-19 Guidance webpage.
Water system flushing guidance
Water systems and devices in closed or underutilized buildings should be flushed to ensure stale water is removed and fresh water with disinfectant is available. This reestablishes water quality and prevents waterborne illness. It includes all water-using appliances, like ice machines and dishwashers, and all water treatment devices, such as filters and water softeners. The disinfectant added to drinking water begins to dissipate over time, and pathogens can begin to grow.
Infographic courtesy of Orange Water and Sewer Authority
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Orange County stay at home order. Additional questions and answers are available on our COVID-19 FAQs page.
Why is a safer at home order in place?
The order is intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals, and keep first responders safe. North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus. According to the CDC, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). However, some spread may be possible before people show symptoms.
Can I leave my house under the safer at home order?
Yes. You may leave home for commercial activity and more businesses are open. However, high-risk individuals are still encouraged to stay home. You can gather socially outdoors in groups of 25 or fewer people and indoors with groups of 10 or fewer people, with appropriate social distancing measures. Many businesses must operate under limited capacity and with additional cleaning measures, so please be advised and plan accordingly.
When out, individuals are strongly encouraged to follow the three Ws:
- Wear a cloth face covering
- Wait by staying 6 feet apart from others not in your household to protect yourself and others from transmission of the virus.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
The order says exercise is allowed. Can I take my kids to a playground or park?
Playground equipment cannot be used, but trails and open spaces at parks can still be used if staying 6 feet away from others not in your household. Gatherings of more than 25 people outdoors are prohibited. Community members should wear masks in situations where social distancing is difficult.
Playgrounds are closed for use due to the inability to ensure adequate physical distancing on play equipment and because the equipment is not sanitized. Please heed closure signs and barricades for play equipment.
Greenways and trails at parks and natural areas remain available for use.
The order bans gatherings of more than 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors. Does that mean I can still gather in groups of fewer people?
You can gather in groups of 25 or fewer people outdoors and 10 or fewer people indoors. Individuals are still advised to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.
What should people do when shopping or otherwise entering a place of business?
The community is reminded to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another while patronizing businesses and to wear cloth face coverings, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See our COVID-19 FAQs page with grocery shopping tips that apply to all shopping situations.
How does this order affect those in unsafe living situations?
People whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe are urged to travel to a safe alternative location.
Does this order apply to the homeless?
Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this order but strongly encouraged to obtain shelter. Governmental and other agencies are encouraged to make such shelter available as soon as possible to the extent practicable.
Are at-home cleaning services allowed to operate?
At-home cleaning services may continue to operate, provided that cleaners maintain physical distancing.
How are religious institutions affected by this order?
Worship service, weddings, and funerals are allowed. Proper safety precautions, including social distancing and face coverings are encouraged.
- N.C. order easing restrictions, Phase 2 - signed May 20
- N.C. order easing restrictions, Phase 1 - signed May 5
- N.C. order easing restrictions, Phase 1 FAQ
- N.C. order easing restrictions, Phase 1 charts and graphs
- N.C. order easing restrictions, Phase 1 comparison
- N.C. extension of stay at home order - signed April 23 (Español)
- N.C. order regarding business requirements - signed April 9 (Español)
- N.C. stay at home order - signed March 27 (Español)
Face Coverings in Public
The state’s executive order strongly recommends that people wear a cloth face covering on the nose and mouth when they leave home and may be within six feet of other people who are not household and family members. This would include indoor community, public, and business settings. These coverings function to protect other people more than the wearer. Face coverings should also be worn outdoors when you cannot stay at least six feet away from other people.
Some populations experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled if wearing face coverings in public spaces, but everyone should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias. If someone is the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the protective nose and mouth covering guidance or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to local law enforcement agencies.
The Executive Order maintains a limit of 10 people for mass gatherings indoors but exempts worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings and funerals. The limit on mass gatherings is expanded to 25 for outdoor gatherings. Physical distancing requirements remain in place.
Bars, bowling alleys, movie theaters, gyms, exercise facilities, museums, nightclubs and other locations must remain closed. However, gyms may conduct outdoor activities in groups of 25 or smaller while meeting the physical distancing requirements.
The order allows indoor and outdoor swimming pools to open, with capacity restrictions, and provides guidance for day and overnight summer camps.
The order allows public parks and trails to open and that individual groups cannot exceed the limit of 25 for outdoor mass gatherings. Playgrounds remain closed, including those in public
- Amendment to the Declaration of State of Emergency in Orange County, May 21
- Extension of the March 13, 2020 Declaration of State of Emergency in Orange County, May 6
- Extension of the March 13, 2020 Declaration of State of Emergency in Orange County, April 23
- Orange County State of Emergency to Order the Public to Stay at Home, March 25
- Orange County State of Emergency Declaration, March 13