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The original item was published from 3/26/2020 10:10:10 AM to 3/26/2020 11:40:44 AM.

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Posted on: March 26, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Orange County Issues a “Stay at Home” Order to Take Effect March 27


Orange County issued an amendment to the Declaration of a State of Emergency. The amendment orders the public to Stay at Home to prevent further spread of COVID-19. The Order will take effect on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 6 p.m. and will remain in effect until April 30, 2020 at 5 p.m. The Stay at Home Order shall be reviewed periodically to determine whether it should be extended, modified, or rescinded.

These additional measures are in place to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of this virus and protect the public. These actions were implemented in consultation with the Orange County Health Department and in coordination with the Towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough.

Orange County Health Department Health Director, Quintana Stewart said, “I want to be very clear about this: We need everyone to limit activities outside of the home and to practice social distancing at all times to slow the spread of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. We all must do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19 to minimize infections – particularly for those who are elderly or have underlying chronic health conditions – and prevent it from overwhelming our healthcare facilities. The more people who take this seriously and stay home, the faster we can return to normal.”

The Order directs Orange County residents to stay at home, leaving only for essential reasons, critical to health and safety. If leaving the home, all people should adhere to social distancing policies, including remaining six feet from others (except for those with whom they share a home) and thoroughly and regularly washing hands.

Effective March 27, 2020, at 6 p.m., all businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery only, can continue.

The Order provides exemptions for businesses and entities providing services or functions deemed critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. This includes – but is not limited to – healthcare operations; retail serving essential human needs, like grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores; fuel products and supply; news media; maintenance of critical infrastructure; and transportation and critical manufacturing sectors. For a full list, please review the Order.

All exempt entities are strongly encouraged to continue to adhere to CDC and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidance to ensure social distancing and proper hygiene and disinfecting is occurring. All exempt entities conducting retail operations should also facilitate curbside pick-up or delivery to the extent possible.

“I fully recognize the emotional, financial and economic impact of these decisions, but based on the best science we have available, these measures are necessary,” said Penny Rich, the Chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “I need all of our community members to understand that the more quickly and closely we follow these stay-at-home measures, the faster and safer we can get through this and get our daily lives, and our economy, moving again. I have tremendous trust in our ability to follow these guidelines, to save lives and support each other throughout – even as we are physically separated.”

Under this Order, all residents of the County are to remain at home unless you are:

  • Going to the doctor or vet (call first to see if you need to be seen or it can wait)
  • Grocery shopping for yourself or others (limit to one trip per week or less if possible)
  • Going to the pharmacy
  • Exercising outdoors (like walking, running, or bicycling, or using, greenways, and trails)
  • Picking up takeout food or using the drive-thru (you can also order delivery)
  • Caring for a friend or family member

While the Stay at Home Order is in place:

  • DO NOT go to work unless you are providing essential services
  • Essential services are outlined in the Order.
  • DO NOT visit friends and family unless it is urgent
  • DO NOT gather in public places
  • DO NOT visit people in the hospital, nursing home, or other care facilities
  • LIMIT non-essential travel

For the latest information and guidance relating to Orange County’s COVID-19 response, visit

The phone line for questions about COVID-19 is 919-245-6111 and is available from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Spanish language and other languages are available.

To receive daily text updates on the crisis, please text OCNCHEALTH to 888777. For Spanish speakers, text OCNCSALUD to 888-777.

You may also sign up for a twice weekly e-newsletter about the COVID-19 response via our website.

Please follow the Orange County Health Department on Facebook and Twitter.

NCDHHS’ website, will include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

In anticipation of questions about the Stay at Home Order, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions document that clarifies, in plain language, what the Order means for community members.

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