NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Joining that of Governor Roy Cooper, New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington have enacted their own “Stay at Home” order to further protect the public against the novel coronavirus.
The order, which is effective beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, goes beyond the statewide order that takes effect at the same time, because local officials said they needed to address issues that are unique to Southeastern North Carolina.
The announcement of the order generated dozens of phone calls and emails into the WECT newsroom with questions about the details.
You can read the full stay at home order here. The one passed Monday morning is identical to the one released by New Hanover County.
No, unlike during a hurricane, the order as it stands now does not enact a curfew for residents or visitors. It does encourage the public to avoid leaving home for reasons other than obtaining essentials or going to work, but it doesn’t prohibit being outdoors.
Stores that do not sell goods essential for health, sustenance, shelter, mobility and hygiene must be closed to the public. Online sales and curb-side pickup are still allowed if these businesses are able to utilize those means while making sure their staff can abide by social-distancing procedures.
Restaurants can remain open, but cannot allow customers inside to order or pick up food. All transactions must be done through curb-side pickup or delivery.
County officials said businesses not listed as being required to close are allowed to remain open as long as social distancing guidelines are met. Those with questions should call the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 910-798-6800, which is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
County and city law enforcement have the ability to use the law to enforce the order, though officials hope it does not come to that.
As with the governor’s order, violations can result in a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, but it is up to local law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office to determine how to charge an individual, and what level of punishment to seek.
While leaving home is discouraged, in cases where travel is necessary, either for a job, a child custody arrangement or to care for a relative or friend, travel is allowed.
Officers will not be stopping motorists at this time to enforce the order, or preventing those from outside the area to enter the county or city.
Parks and nature trails are open, though all public gardens are closed, as are playgrounds, sports facilities, restroom facilities and any other gathering places at those parks.
Residents are allowed to take a walk or otherwise exercise outside, but are again encouraged to remember all social distancing guidelines.
Beaches remain closed, and authorities are monitoring waterways to ensure social distancing measures are being followed.
County officials said they want to allow people to continue utilizing open outdoor spaces for exercising. Because golfing can be done within social distancing guidelines, courses are allowed to stay open.
The municipal course or “Muni” in Wilmington is open, but is not renting carts and is staggering tee times to allow for proper social distancing.
Short term rentals and hotels are also required to discontinue rentals and bookings for fewer than 28 days, unless they are for a pre-approved government use, or for someone in the medical field who needs shelter during isolation.
County officials said they are working with organizations to make sure the area’s homeless population is properly served during this time as well.