From Staff Reports
Orange County issued a stay-at-home directive to all residents Thursday morning in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The order will take effect Friday at 6 p.m. and will remain in effect until April 30 at 5 p.m.
The county said the measure has been put in place to minimize all unnecessary activities outside the home to slow the spread of the virus and protect the public. The action was taken in consultation with the Orange County Health Department and in coordination with the Towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough.
“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,” said Orange County Health Department Health Director Quintana Stewart. “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 says Orange County residents should leave home 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.
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, see the Order.
All the exempt entities are strongly encouraged to continue to adhere to CDC and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 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.”
In anticipation of questions about the order, the county has created a Frequently Asked Questions document that clarifies, in plain language, what the order means for community members.
The stay-at-home order will be reviewed periodically by county officials to determine whether it should be extended, modified or rescinded.