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North Carolina: State-by-State COVID-19 Guidance

NORTH CAROLINA

February 25, 2021:

On February 24, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state will carefully ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order No. 195 lifts the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Safety protocols such as masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing will still be required. Executive Order No. 195 will take effect February 26th at 5:00 p.m. and will expire March 26th at 5:00 p.m.

Under the Order, the number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoor gatherings. The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors, in compliance with new occupancy restrictions. Many businesses, venues, and arenas will have increased occupancy both indoors and outdoors.

The Executive Order has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity. Indoor facilities in the 30%-occupancy category may not exceed two hundred fifty (250) people per indoor room or indoor space. Such facilities include:

  • Bars;
  • Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces;
  • Lounges (including tobacco lounges) and Night Clubs;
  • Indoor areas of Amusement Parks;
  • Movie Theaters;
  • Entertainment facilities (such as bingo parlors and gaming establishments);
  • Sports Arenas and Fields; and
  • Venues (although indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250-person limit if they follow additional safety measures, up to 15% capacity).

50% capacity limit pertain to the following facilities:

  • Restaurants;
  • Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries;
  • Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (for example, gyms, bowling alleys, and rock climbing facilities);
  • Pools;
  • Museums and Aquariums;
  • Retailers;
  • Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks; and
  • Salons, Personal Care, and Tattoo Parlors.

Teachers are now eligible to receive vaccination as the state begins to expand access to group 3 essential workers. Due to shipping delays caused by inclement weather, DHHS continues to work with providers to administer both last week’s and this week’s shipments and exhaust first dose supply before next week’s shipment arrives.

February 10, 2021:

North Carolina is currently vaccinating people in Groups 1 and 2, which include health care workers, long-term care staff and residents, and people 65 and older. In the coming weeks, providers will continue to vaccinate these groups. More than 40% of North Carolina’s residents 65 and older have been vaccinated. Under the timeline outlined today, the state plans to move to additional frontline workers on March 10th.

On February 9, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 36 to make modifications to 2020 COVID-19 relief legislation. On February 10, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen outlined a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers becoming eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with anyone working in child care or in PreK-12 schools on February 24.

As of February 10, North Carolina has administered more than 1 million first doses of vaccine and more than 1.5 million total doses. North Carolina is expected to receive more doses over the coming weeks. However, because vaccine supply continues to be limited and the Group 3 population of frontline essential workers is so large, the state will be moving to the next group gradually. Those working in child care and schools, such as teachers, bus and van drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, and food service workers, will be eligible first. This includes staff in child care centers and homes, Head Start Programs, Preschool and PreK programs, traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. See Deeper Dive for additional details.

NCDHHS is working with partners to develop operational guidance to support child care and school staff in accessing vaccines. Schools can and should be providing in-person instruction. Under robust safety measures, all students can be in classrooms, with middle and high school students also following six-feet social distancing protocols.

February 9, 2021:

On February 9, 2021, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen outlined how North Carolina is working to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The strategies that the state is implementing include:

  • Requiring all vaccine providers to collect race and ethnicity data;
  • Prioritizing a portion of its weekly vaccines to events that focus on underserved communities; and
  • Allocating a weekly vaccine amount based on county population to ensure geographic equity across all 100 counties.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has formed a dedicated team to track and provide technical assistance to vaccine providers to ensure they are hitting targets for speed and equity.

Governor Cooper says North Carolina is making some progress in improving vaccine access for Black North Carolinians. The state has seen a 65% increase in the weekly number of first doses administered to the African American population over the past four weeks. As of the week of February 3, 18% of the vaccines administered in the state had gone to the Black/African American population, up from 11% the week of January 13. African Americans make up 22% of North Carolina’s population. The Governor believes there is still more work to do in the Latinx/Hispanic community, which has received only 2% of total vaccines administered in the state.

Last week, North Carolina became one of the first states in the country to release statewide race and ethnicity data for COVID-19 vaccines. The Department added new county demographic data to the vaccine data dashboard, including data by race, ethnicity, gender, and age group.

NCDHHS also expanded its COVID-19 vaccine help center to answer people's questions and help them determine when they are eligible for a vaccine. The hotline, 888-675-4567, is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Callers can get help with general COVID-19 vaccine questions, information on eligibility groups, and how to find vaccine locations and transportation services.

Governor Cooper also issued Executive Order No. 193, which amends and extends Executive Orders Nos. 130 and 139. The Order gives the NCDHHS Secretary the authority to expand the types of providers who have the authority to administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. Through this Order, providers with this authority will now include dentists licensed in North Carolina. As the state continues to fight the pandemic and protect North Carolinians, the Order directs state officials to marshal all state resources, including property, facilities, and personnel, upon request by NCDHHS, towards vaccination efforts.

February 4, 2021:

On February 4, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper outlined a plan for allocating federal COVID-19 relief funds and investing state resources to help North Carolina communities rebuild. The Governor’s early plan calls for investing the state’s $4 billion share of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, along with some state resources, for immediate critical needs. The new federal funding will provide vital COVID-19 relief such as vaccines, supplies to slow the virus spread, help for rent and utility bills, and more funding to put food on the table.

Federal funds will provide:

  • Approximately $2 billion for emergency assistance for public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions;
  • $336 million for childcare and development block grants;
  • Approximately $700 million for access to vaccines and testing, tracing, and prevention measures to slow the spread of the virus;
  • $546 million for emergency rental assistance, which will build on North Carolina’s current work;
  • $258 million for Highway Infrastructure;
  • $65 million for airports;
  • $47 million for Community Mental Health Services; and
  • Funding for food assistance programs, such as SNAP and school nutrition.

In addition to the federal allocation plan, the Governor recommends investing $695 million from the state’s General Fund to address other immediate needs. The Governor’s recommendations for allocation are as follows:

  • $50 million for continued hazard duty pay for state employees on the frontlines of COVID-19, especially law enforcement and corrections personnel;
  • $64.5 million for the replenishment of the North Carolina State Health Plan;
  • $468 million for bonuses for educators and school personnel in public K-12 schools, community colleges, and the university system (educators were not a part of the raises approved in the last biennium for state employees);
  • $30 million to extend high-speed internet to all corners of the state and for use in other urgent connectivity initiatives, such as IT infrastructure, security for community colleges, and enhancement of 35,000 hotspots for educational use;
  • $37 million to support small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic, including small business counselling, marketing for tourism and hospitality, the ReTOOLNC program for historically underutilized businesses (HUBs), and the business loan program at Golden L.E.A.F.; and
  • Expansion of state unemployment benefits, which are still among the lowest in the country, to a maximum duration of 26 weeks and maximum benefit of $500 per week (as opposed to the current max of $350 per week).

February 2, 2021:

On February 2, 2021, Governor Cooper called on K-12 school districts across the state to allow in-person instruction for all students. The Governor joined the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis to thank educators for their extraordinary work during this unprecedented time. Leaders also emphasized the critical importance of ensuring all students have an opportunity to learn in a classroom and highlighted ongoing research showing that, with proper mitigation measures, in-person learning is safe. Governor Cooper, Superintendent Truitt, Chair Davis, and Secretary Cohen sent a letter to local school board members and superintendents encouraging in-person instruction across the state.

February 1, 2021:

On January 28, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that the state has administered 99.8 percent of the first doses received as of January 27, 2021. This week, providers across the state are receiving shipments from the state’s allotment of 120,000 vaccine doses. About 56 percent of first doses allocated for long-term care facilities have been administered.

Earlier this week, NCDHHS launched Find My Vaccine Group, an online tool that helps North Carolinians determine when they will be eligible to receive their vaccine.

January 27, 2021:

On January 27, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, announced that North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order, requiring people to be at home from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., will be extended. Face covering requirements and restrictions on individuals gathering in both indoor and outdoor settings are still in place. Executive Order No. 189 will be in effect through at least Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

The extension of Executive Order No. 190 allowing for the sale of “to-go” or delivery of mixed beverages will continue to help businesses that are struggling right now. The extension of Executive Order No. 191 will help families have the ability to stay in their homes, a critical component of slowing the spread of the virus.

North Carolina continues to administer Covid-19 vaccines across the state. As of today, 99.8% of all first doses received by the state were reported as being administered and 859,695 total doses have been administered. Vaccine supply continues to be very low and the state is hopeful for more vaccine to be on the way. On a call with Governor Cooper and other governors yesterday, the Biden Administration committed to increase vaccine shipments to the states by 16% over the next 3 weeks.

On Tuesday, NCDHHS expanded its vaccine data dashboard to provide information about vaccine doses allocated to and received by the state and updated guidance to ensure equitable distribution and speed of administration.

North Carolinians can find out when they will be eligible to get their vaccine through a new online tool, Find My Vaccine Group. The screener walks users through a series of questions to determine which vaccine group they fall in. Learn more about North Carolina’s vaccine rollout at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.

On January 23, NCDHHS reported the first identified case of B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant in North Carolina. Early data suggest that this variant may be more contagious than other variants and state health officials continue to recommend staying at home when possible.

January 25, 2021:

On January 23, North Carolina health officials confirmed that the new strain of COVID-19 has been detected in the state -- specifically, in Mecklenburg County. The new strain, called B.1.1.7, was first detected in the United Kingdom in December. According to NCDHHS, there are 195 cases of B.1.1.7 in the US in 21 states as of Friday.

Health officials said early data suggest that this new strain may be more contagious than the first strain of coronavirus. Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against the new strain.

January 20, 2021:

On January 19, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that in accordance with federal recommendations, the state has given local entities the flexibility to begin vaccinating North Carolinians over the age of 65 and all health care workers who have in-person contact with patients.

In the last week, North Carolina has significantly increased the pace of vaccinations. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is supporting health systems, local health departments and community health centers across the state to host large community vaccine events for people currently eligible to be vaccinated. More than 45,000 vaccines are expected to be given through these events. A list of local vaccine providers is available on YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.

With vaccines still in short supply, the state is implementing a phased distribution of the vaccine. Learn more about who is currently eligible to get vaccinated and where you can set up an appointment in your community at the NCDHHS Find Your Spot to Take Your Shot site.

January 18, 2021:

(Wake County): On January 19, starting at 8:30 a.m., those eligible can contact Wake County on a 24-hour vaccine hotline or an online tool to register to be vaccinated. Once registered, you will receive a notification when an appointment is available. Priority will be determined by age and risk of contracting the virus, the county says. Not the order in which someone joins the waiting list.

(Durham County): On January 19, Group 2 vaccinations begin by appointment. Those eligible must call the county’s hotline 919-560-HELP (919-560-4357) Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The county says they are experiencing extremely high call volume.

(Johnston County): On January 18, county officials announced that on January 20, 2021, a drive-thru clinic will occur for Group 2 vaccinations at Corinth Holders High School located at 6875 Applewhite Road, Wendell, NC 27591. The clinic will last from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., or until supplies last. Participants should bring ID to verify eligibility if they are in the category for adults 65 and older.

(Cumberland County): On January 18, county officials announced they are hosting vaccine clinics for Group 2 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A special Saturday clinic will occur on January 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The clinics will be held at Crown Expo Center, 1960 Coliseum Dr., Fayetteville. Appointment slots can be made from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. vaccines will be first come, first served.

(Orange County): On January 18, county officials announced those eligible for Group 2 vaccinations must register for an appointment online or by calling 919-913-8088.

(Nash County): On January 18, county officials stated no vaccination events are slated for this week, but are asking those eligible in Group 2 to register online. For questions, there is a COVID-19 hotline at 252-462-2079, or email at covid19@nashcountync.gov.

(Person County): On January 18, county officials stated no vaccination events are slated for this week.

(Franklin County): On January 18, county officials announced that registration is required for Group 2 vaccine clinic events. Those in Group 2 can register by calling (919) 729-0654 or 919-496-2533 or email CovidVAX@franklincountync.us.

(Chatham County): On January 18, county officials announced that vaccinations for Group 2 are by appointment after registering. Group 2 may register online or call (919) 545-8323 to register. The phone line is operational from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

(Harnett County): On January 18, county officials announced that vaccinations for Group 2 are offered by appointment, however officials say phone lines, call center, and website are at capacity.

(Wayne County): On January 18, county officials announced that vaccinations for Group 2 are offered by appointment. To register, call the hotline, Monday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at 919-705-1800. Officials ask those eligible to call back until they get a called taker to receive a time slot or be put on a waiting list.

(Lee County): On January 18, county officials announced they are offering vaccinations for Group 2 at a drive-thru clinic, but require registration for an allotted time. To register, call (919) 721-4769 or (984) 368-2112 on Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

(Granville and Vance Counties): On January 18, county officials announced that vaccinations for Group 2 are offered by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call the GVPH COVID Vaccine Hotline at 252-295-1503.

(Warren County): On January 18, county officials announced that vaccinations for Group 2 are offered by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call the Warren County Health Department at (252) 257-1185.

(Halifax County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment. To check your eligibility and schedule an appointment, please call 252-641-7511.

(Edgecombe County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment. To check your eligibility and schedule an appointment, please call 252-641-7511.

(Wilson County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment. Register online or call 252-360-0500.

(Northampton County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment. Call 252-534-5841 to be added to the waiting list. You will be contacted for an appointment.

(Hoke County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment. Call 910-753-4429 or 910-753-4430 or download the forms, and email them to COVIDVAC@hokehealth.org.

(Moore County): On January 18, county officials announced that Group 2 vaccinations are offered by appointment at the Moore County Health Department Clinic on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. People can pre-register online or call 910-947-SHOT (7468) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

January 12, 2021:

(Wake County): On January 12, Wake County Public Health will start vaccinating residents ages 75 and older against COVID-19 on Tuesday, January 19. Wake County Public Health said it has made significant progress in vaccinating Phase 1a and is ready to roll into Phase 1b of the process.

"We've taken a major step forward in providing protection to our healthcare workers, and now, we're poised to give the vaccine to our older residents who are at greater risk of serious health problems if they contract the virus," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. "We strongly encourage anyone 75 or older to consider rolling up their sleeves and getting the shots to safeguard themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19."

To avoid long lines, Wake County has built a new tool that will allow residents ages 75 or older to express interest in getting vaccinated, and essentially reserve their place in line. Then, when supply allows, the team will reach out to them to schedule an appointment. The tool will go live in two ways on January 19. It'll be accessible on the county website and via a special phone line. The county will share the phone number and the web address, as well as more details about the process, as we get closer to January 19.

Wake County Public Health is one of five healthcare providers in the county to receive shipments of the vaccine. The others include the three local hospitals and UNC Wakebrook.

Together, the five entities have received 24,757 doses - with just 3,950 of them going to our Public Health clinic. To date, the county has administered 2,000 doses, with more than 2,000 additional doses scheduled to go in arms over the coming days.

"We're moving quickly to vaccinate as many people as we can, according to the priority order established by the state," said Dr. Jason Wittes, Wake County's Pharmacy Director. "The challenge is we never know how much vaccine we'll get from week to week, which has made planning for all the phases difficult."

Meanwhile, the county will continue answering questions from the community about the vaccine through its COVID-19 hotline - (919) 250-1500 - and its email address- mailto:covid19.questions@wakegov.com.

January 6, 2021:

On January 6, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shared an update on North Carolina’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the vaccination effort currently underway. Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. to last through at least Friday, January 29.

NCDHHS is onboarding more health care providers to administer the vaccine and sharing detailed guidance with providers to help them get the vaccine out more quickly. NCDHHS has also notified vaccine providers that future allocations will be based on how quickly they are able to get their supply out to eligible recipients. If an entity is not using their vaccine supply quickly enough or keeping the state database updated on their progress that will impact how much they are allocated going forward.

As the state moves into Phase 1b, local hospitals and other vaccine providers can now begin administering vaccines to those over age 75. Individuals should call their local health department or hospital to see if they have started to schedule vaccine appointments. A comprehensive list of local health department contact numbers can be found here.

January 5, 2021:

On January 5, Governor Roy Cooper mobilized approximately 50 personnel of the North Carolina National Guard in support of the anticipated demand requests from state partners and county health departments. The Guard will be operational this week. Some of the planned activities include logistics planning, command and control center support, and vaccination teams that will be available to support state efforts and fellow Guard personnel.

January 4, 2021:

On December 30, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 184, extending North Carolina’s evictions moratorium through January 31, 2021. E.O. 184 clarifies and expands the federal eviction moratorium, which was extended by Congress until January 31, 2021. With many people struggling financially due to this pandemic, this Order halts evictions for nonpayment of rent.

This order also extends protections for individuals applying for assistance through the state’s Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program. This program assists North Carolinians facing financial hardship by providing rent and utility payments directly to landlords and utility companies. Over 21,000 renters have been notified that they will receive rent or utility payment help and award notices totaling $37.4 million have been issued as the HOPE Program continues to provide more assistance to its applicants.

Governor Cooper also underscored the importance of doubling down on prevention efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. North Carolina has seen record-high rates of hospitalizations and percent of COVID-19 tests returning positive in the last week. The state is also under a Modified Stay at Home Order until at least January 8, 2021, which requires people to be home between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

December 30, 2020:

On December 30, the North Carolina Coronavirus Task Force broke down the state’s current vaccination prioritization plan which is expected to move into the next phase in January. Vaccines will eventually be available to anyone, but supplies are currently limited, so the state is issuing vaccinations in phases and by groups, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. As of Wednesday, North Carolina is in Phase 1a, which includes healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers administering the vaccine and long-term care staff and residents.

Dr. Cohen stated North Carolina may move into Phase 1b in early January. Phase 1b will be divided into three groups so that people may be vaccinated as supplies become available. The first group in Phase 1b will include anyone 75 years old and older regardless of health status or living situation. Phase 1b Group 2 will include health care workers and frontline essential workers ages 50 and older. Finally, Phase 1b Group 3 will include health care workers and frontline essential workers of any age.

The next vaccination phases will be:

  • Phase 2: Adults at high risk for exposure and at increased risk of severe illness.
    • Vaccinations will happen by group in the following order:
      • Group 1: Anyone 65-74 years old, regardless of health status or living situation
      • Group 2: Anyone 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
      • Group 3: Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function.
      • Group 4: Essential workers not yet vaccinated.
        • The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, and public safety (e.g., engineers), and public health workers.
  • Phase 3: Students
    • College and university students
    • K-12 students age 16 and over. Younger children will only be vaccinated when the vaccine is approved for them.
  • Phase 4: Everyone who wants a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccination.

More information is available online at yourspotyourshot.nc.gov.

December 29, 2020:

On December 23, Governor Cooper announced that he plans to extend the state’s evictions moratorium on residential evictions for non-payment of rent through at least January 31, 2021. The details and language of the moratorium are forthcoming and will be based on how or whether Congress extends the federal moratorium. More information on the state’s extension will be shared as soon as possible.

On December 22, Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen highlighted updates on North Carolina’s distribution of two COVID-19 vaccines. The state expects to receive approximately 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 176,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage and is slated to go to 59 hospitals and 97 local health department sites.

December 22, 2020:

On December 22, Governor Roy Cooper highlighted updates on North Carolina’s distribution of two COVID-19 vaccines. The state expects to receive approximately 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 176,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage and is slated to go to 59 hospitals and 97 local health department sites.

Governor Cooper and health officials warned against traveling and large gatherings ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Governor also reminded people that the statewide mask mandate and Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. will still be in effect through the holidays until at least January 8, 2021

On December 21, Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order authorizing the North Carolina ABC Commission to permit the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages as an alternative to on-site consumption. This Order is effective December 21, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. through January 31, 2021.

Under this Order, establishments holding certain permits from the ABC Commission, including restaurants, hotels, private clubs, private bars, and some distilleries, are allowed to sell mixed beverages to-go or for delivery. These businesses, delivery service providers that contract with these businesses, and purchasers of mixed beverages to-go must follow the restrictions in the Order and any additional restrictions and guidance established by the ABC Commission.

The Modified Stay at Home Order remains in effect and the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption must still cease at 9 p.m. Businesses subject to the Order may continue to sell mixed beverages for off-site consumption until their business closes and in accordance with other applicable laws and regulations.

December 9, 2020:

(Charlotte): On December 8, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools voted to switch most students back to plan C, or online learning, beginning December 14 with a return date of January 19. Under the plan approved Tuesday, students in pre-kindergarten will continue with in-person learning, in addition to students with special needs whose individualized education plans call for those accommodations.

December 8, 2020:

On December 8, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will begin a Modified Stay at Home Order after a rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends. The Order requires people to stay at home between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. and takes effect Friday, December 11 and will be in place until at least January 8, 2021.

The Order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10:00 p.m. Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted. The new restrictions also include moving the alcohol curfew to 9:00 p.m., two hours earlier than the previous curfew of 11:00 p.m. Events like live entertainment, amateur sporting events and movies must end no later than 10:00 p.m. under the order, but professional and collegiate sporting events are allowed to continue past that time. Face coverings continue to be required in all indoor public settings. For more information see the Order’s FAQ.

Governor Cooper also stated that further action would be taken to slow the spread of the virus if trends do not improve. This could require further limiting of restaurant dining, indoor entertainment or shopping and retail capacity restrictions, among other safety protocols.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. The number of red counties (critical community spread) has more than doubled since November 23, up to 48 red counties from 20 red counties. There are now 34 orange counties (substantial community spread), as compared to 42 orange counties from the previous report. With today’s report, more than 80% of the state’s counties fall into the red or orange tier.

December 1, 2020:

On December 1, Governor Roy Cooper stated that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free to anyone in North Carolina who wants it. As soon as the FDA grants approval for the use of any vaccine, the state is expecting to receive more about 85,000 doses. It will first be given to health care workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities who treat or work with COVID patients and those who clean areas where COVID patients are present. The state estimates that some of those 161,000 people statewide will begin to get their shots by the end of December. That group is more narrow than the Phase 1 recipients recommended by a panel of independent advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As additional vaccines are approved, the state will get additional allocations and will expand distribution to others. By January, the vaccine will make its way to other high-risk adults. The second group targeted by the state will be residents of long-term care, people over the age of 65 who live in crowded situations such as jails and homeless shelters, and other adults who have two or more chronic conditions that put them at greater risk for a severe case of the coronavirus. That group is estimated to number up to 951,000.

Vaccinating the rest of those at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 will encompass another 1 to 1.5 million people – everyone over 65, those under 65 in crowded situations or who work in frontline jobs and don't have two or more chronic conditions.

The third phase makes vaccine available to anyone in an essential position, according to the state "workers in industries critical to societal functioning," and students in K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

The final phase would include the remainder of the North Carolina population.

November 23, 2020:

On November 23, Governor Roy Cooper issued additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, November 25 and runs through Friday, December 11.

In addition to extending Phase 3 capacity limits and safety requirements, the Order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when travelling with people outside of the household.

The Order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updated North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map due to the rapid rise in cases and hospitalization over the past week. Since introducing the system last week, ten more counties have moved into the red category indicating critical community spread. There are now 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

November 18, 2020:

On November 18, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is offering more than 120 no-cost COVID-19 community testing events, including new locations in partnership with retailers to help North Carolinians protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities as they prepare for Thanksgiving this weekend.

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, visit the No-Cost Community Testing Events page on the NCDHHS website. More locations are being added each day. Additional testing sites can be found at Find My Testing Place.

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19 at the events. People without insurance are eligible for testing and identification documents are not required. Children and adults may be tested, but a parent or legal guardian must be present with children and teens 17 or younger.

People who choose to travel or gather for Thanksgiving should consider having a COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time. A test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have symptoms yet; however, tests can miss some infections and are not a fail-safe measure. NCDHHS also recommends that everyone quarantine for 14 days before gathering with anyone outside their household to limit advance risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Quarantining is particularly important from the time you test until you travel or gather with people outside your household.

November 17, 2020:

On November 17, Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System to pinpoint counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offer specific recommendations to bring numbers down. This system will help give local leaders another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow viral spread. The map will be updated every four weeks.

The system uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:

  • Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  • Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  • Red: Critical Community Spread

Because no one metric provides a complete picture, the COVID-19 County Alert System uses a combination of three metrics: (1) case rate; (2) the percent of tests that are positive; and (3) hospital impact within the county.

To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier AND the threshold for either percent positive OR hospital impact.

  • Case Rate: The number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people
  • Percent Positive: The percent of tests that are positive over 14 days
  • Hospital Impact: A composite score based on the impact that COVID-19 has had on hospitals including percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-19 related visits to the Emergency Department, staffed open hospital beds, and critical staffing shortages over 14 days

Counties that do not meet criteria for red or orange are categorized as being in the yellow tier (significant community spread) and should continue to be vigilant to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

The Alert System includes recommendations for individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials in every county, as well as specific stepped-up recommendations for orange and red counties.

November 12, 2020:

On November 12, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state is providing COVID-19 tests to colleges and universities across North Carolina to help bolster schools’ student testing efforts in advance of Thanksgiving and holiday break. NCDHHS is sending a total of 74,470 federally-funded rapid antigen tests to public and private colleges and universities across North Carolina, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), to test students before they travel home or celebrate the holidays with people who live outside their household.

Additionally, NCDHHS is working with local health departments in Guilford, Harnett, New Hanover, Mecklenburg and Pitt counties to host community testing events near college and university campuses for students who need tests before the end of the semester. These testing efforts are part of an ongoing partnership with colleges, universities and HBCUs across the state.

For those who wish to travel or celebrate the holiday with people who do not live in their household, NCDHHS recommends a COVID-19 test three to four days in advance.

November 10, 2020:

On November 10, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 176, limiting North Carolina indoor mass gatherings to 10 people in an effort to drive down North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics. Executive Order 176 will go into effect on Friday, November 13 and will be in place through Friday, December 4. The Order does not change the reduced capacity limits for certain businesses that have already been laid out. For more on this, read the Frequently Asked Questions document.

Governor Cooper also announced that full-service restaurants are now eligible for assistance through the Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief Program (MURR) administered by the NC Department of Commerce. These businesses may apply for up to 4 months of rent or mortgage interest capped at $20,000 per location for up to 2 locations. Businesses can learn more and apply by visiting http://www.nccommerce.com/murr.

October 28, 2020:

On October 28, Governor Roy issued Executive Order No. 171, which the CDC’s Order titled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of Covid-19” enforceable as state law. All CDC protections apply to residents who qualify under the CDC order. Additionally, under the Executive Order, if a landlord brings an eviction action, the landlord must provide a blank copy of the CDC Declaration form to the tenants.

The Executive Order, similar to the CDC order, does not prevent eviction for reasons other than nonpayment of rent due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Executive Order takes effect on October 30, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and will expire on December 31, 2020 unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded.

October 21, 2020:

On October 21, Governor Roy issued Executive Order 170. This order extends Executive Order 169 (which was issued on September 30, 2020 and implemented Phase 3 of lifting easing COVID-19 related NC) until 5:00 p.m. on November 13, 2020.

The Order also extends the prohibition against price gouging (originally set forth in Executive Order 116) through 5:00 p.m. on November 13, 2020.

October 15, 2020:

On October 15, Governor Roy Cooper announced that applications are now being accepted for the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program, which will assist eligible low- and- moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The new program seeks to promote housing stability during the ongoing pandemic by providing rent and utility assistance to prevent evictions and utility disconnections.

The HOPE Program will provide $117 million for rent and utility assistance for renters who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, have a current household income that is 80% of the area median income or lower, and are behind on their rent or utilities when they apply.

Renters who need rent or utility assistance can apply online at nc211.org/hope. Applicants who cannot access the online application can also call 2-1-1 and speak with a program representative, who will assist the caller through the application on the phone. Callers can reach 2-1-1 Monday-Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Renters can apply for utility assistance, rent assistance or both programs. Rent assistance is paid to the landlord on behalf of the applicant. This includes overdue and future rent payments, for up to six months. At least one month’s rent must be overdue at the time of application.

Utility payments will be made directly to the utility provider for up to six months of past due essential utilities, such as electricity, water, sewer/wastewater, natural gas and propane. For more information about the HOPE Program, visit nc211.org/hope.

October 6, 2020:

On October 6, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is providing $35 million in operational grants from federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to help child care programs providing in-person child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants will be awarded to licensed child care providers operating in-person during the months of August through October 2020 to help offset the significant financial strains due to the additional expenses to meet health and safety guidelines, while experiencing reduced revenues from lower enrollment. Providers have the flexibility to use these grants to meet their unique individual business and operational needs.

All eligible licensed child care programs will receive some level of operational grants. Specific grant amounts are based on program size, quality, and whether the program serve infants and toddlers.

October 1, 2020:

On September 30, Governor Roy Cooper announced North Carolina will cautiously ease some restrictions while continuing safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as the state’s metrics remained stable in September. The state will ease some restrictions starting Friday, October 2.

Executive Order 169 begins Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. and continues for three weeks through October 23. Its new provisions include:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
  • The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended to October 23.

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires October 23.

On October 1, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina minority and women-owned businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic will have access to guidance and $12 million in grants to help them weather the crisis. The North Carolina Department of Administration has launched a new grant program, RETOOLNC, to help North Carolina Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms impacted by COVID-19.

North Carolina certified HUBs and DBEs must meet the following criteria to receive funding from the RETOOLNC program. Eligible Businesses must:

  • Have been operating for one year
  • Be certified with NCHUB or NCDOT DBE
  • Be an independent business located within North Carolina
  • Be a business with up to 50 employees or less (including but not limited to, sole proprietorships, home based businesses, LLCs, and independent contractors)
  • Not have annual revenues exceeding $1,500,000
  • Not be delinquent on North Carolina State income taxes
  • Not have any active bankruptcies or tax liens

To learn more about the RETOOLNC initiative, visit the NC HUB Office website for details. HUB firms interested in receiving state certification can email hub.retoolnc@doa.nc.gov or call 984-236-0148 for assistance.

September 29, 2020:

On September 29, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina has distributed over $2.6 billion in coronavirus relief funds as of September 21 and continues to work to administer remaining funds in coordination with federal requirements.

September 23, 2020:

On September 22, Governor Cooper announced that some North Carolina small businesses that have experienced extraordinary disruption to their operations due to COVID-19 may benefit from a $40 million relief program to help offset fixed costs like rent, mortgage interests and utility bills.

The N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR), administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations.

Applicants can apply for up to four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses. The help offers relief for some of the fixed costs a business cannot easily control on its own. Applications to the program should open next week and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must certify that: (1) they were closed during the period April 1 through July 31, 2020; (2) they expect to be able to operate after the COVID crisis has passed; and (3) they have not been reimbursed by any other federal source for the expenses for which they seek reimbursement through this program.

Business leaders can learn about the MURR program by registering for one of the free educational webinars offered by the Department of Commerce over the next two weeks.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Amusement parks
  • Banquet Halls (with catering staff)
  • Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges
  • Bingo parlors
  • Bowling alleys/centers
  • Dance halls
  • Indoor fitness and recreation centers
  • Motion picture/movie theaters (except drive-ins)
  • Museums

Furthermore, Governor Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Cohen announced that effective October 2, large outdoor venues would be permitted to open at 7% capacity with key safety precautions in place. Large entertainment venues are those that can seat over 10,000. The announcement was made in advance so these locations could begin putting safety measures in place in order to operate.

State and public health officials also added they will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next week to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires October 2 at 5 pm. Governor Cooper stated, “In [the order], we hope to ease some other restrictions, while still keeping safety protocols like masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits in place.”

September 21, 2020:

On September 17, Governor Roy Cooper announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). As the Governor announced in July, every district will continue to have flexibility to select Plan A, B or C based on their unique needs. In addition, districts should still provide an option for families to select all remote learning for their students. Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.

September 9, 2020:

On September 9, Governor Cooper announced nearly $40 million in funding for NC Student Connect, a new partnership created to address internet connectivity gaps that are a barrier to remote learning for many North Carolina students.

On September 4, Governor Cooper along with the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) and its Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO) announced five new projects that will expand high-speed internet access for residents in Columbus, Duplin and Graham counties. The projects are made possible by more than $4 million in supplemental GREAT grant funding through the COVID-19 Recovery Act.

Governor Cooper also signed House Bill 1105, the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 into law, which allocates nearly $1 billion in federal relief funds. The act includes additional unemployment benefits, stimulus checks for parents, and provides more access to private school voucher programs. Additionally, it allows up to 3,800 more students to attend the state’s two virtual charter schools.

September 3, 2020:

On September 2, Governor Roy Cooper announced the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services launched the NC Medicaid Optional COVID-19 Testing program, which will reimburse Medicaid providers for costs associated with COVID-19 testing of people without insurance. Federal funding will be available to cover 100% of costs directly related to COVID-19 testing, including both viral and serological or antibody tests, through the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In North Carolina, Medicaid-enrolled providers may file directly with NC Medicaid for reimbursement for testing eligible uninsured individuals. Costs for COVID-19 tests will be covered retroactively up to three months if people were uninsured at the time of the test.

September 1, 2020:

On August 31, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 162 to extend the limited hours on the sale of alcoholic drinks in North Carolina. As the state continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Order requires restaurants to end the sale of alcoholic beverages at 11 p.m. This Order will remain in effect through October 2, 2020.

On September 1, Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina will take a modest step forward and move into Phase 2.5 starting this Friday, September 4, at 5 p.m. Mask mandates and other prevention methods remain in effect. Changes under the Phase 2.5 Order includes:

  • Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.
  • Playgrounds may open.
  • Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity.
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, and volleyball, among others, may open at 30% capacity.
  • Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed.
  • Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits.

In addition, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen issued a Secretarial Order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited to: not having a current outbreak, having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19, and having adequate personal protective equipment. The Secretarial Order is effective as of September 4 at 5 p.m. and remains in effect through September 22, 2020.

August 26, 2020:

On August 26, Governor Roy Cooper shared a recommended budget, Support for a Determined North Carolina, which “outlines how to use the state’s remaining federal coronavirus funding and make responsible investments in the state’s future.”

August 25, 2020:

On August 25, Governor Roy Cooper announced that $175 million will be available to help North Carolinians with rent and utility payments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 17, 2020:

On August 11, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 156, which extends deadlines for certain health assessments and immunization requirements due to the impact of the pandemic. The order provides that NCDHHS shall provide additional time for families, students, and children to complete required immunizations.

On August 14, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 157, which extends certain transportation-related provisions in previous executive orders.

Governor Roy Cooper also announced that businesses and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina that have experienced interruption due to the pandemic could qualify for up to $250,000 from a new state grant program. The Department of Commerce is now accepting applications for the Job Retention Grant Program through the agency’s website. Both for-profit and certain types of nonprofit employers may apply for grants through the program, which has a strict application deadline of September 1, 2020.

August 6, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 155, which extends Phase 2 COVID measures for another five weeks. Governor Cooper announced that this extension of the Safer At Home: Phase 2 is necessary as students and staff return to schools, colleges, and universities.

August 3, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 154 declaring a state of emergency for Hurricane Isaias. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed evacuation procedure in the state. North Carolina is urging people to make every effort to stay with family and friends, or even a hotel, as the first option, and the state will coordinate shelters for those who need it. Some of the changes in sheltering include:

  • Residents and visitors seeking shelter will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. If an individual has COVID symptoms, they will be redirected to a non-congregate sheltering option where they can more easily isolate.
  • Social distancing means fewer residents in shelters, and if needed, more facilities and volunteers to shelter the same amount of people as in previous seasons.
  • Maximizing space requirements may mean not all shelters will offer cots. Be prepared to provide your own bedding and care items.
  • Meals will be served in sealed containers and shelters will move away from serving lines or buffets to minimize the potential exposure of everyone in the shelter.

July 29, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 153 stopping the sale of alcoholic drinks in restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries at 11 p.m. Additionally, North Carolina bars that are currently closed will remain closed. This order will take effect Friday, July 31. The order will not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, or other entities permitted to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption. Local governments that have implemented orders that end alcohol sales before 11 p.m. or that apply to other entities remain in effect.

July 27, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 152. The order extends certain Health and Human Services provisions regarding COVID-19 in Executive Orders 130, 139, 144, and 148 for another 60 days, to last through September 22, 2020.

July 21, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is taking further action to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks among the agricultural workforce, delivering critical personal protection equipment for use by agricultural workers across the state.

July 16, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper introduced the new NCcareers.org on July 15, an integrated career information system that offers North Carolinians ways to explore careers and job opportunities.

July 14, 2020:

Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for three more weeks after the current Executive Order expires on Friday, July 17.

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced health and safety plans for K-12 public schools for the new school year. Schools will open for in-person instruction under an updated Plan B that requires face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols.

July 13, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 232 into law to authorize individuals to wear masks and face coverings for health purposes. This act is effective on July 10, 2020.

July 7, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 77 into law to adjust the department of transportation certified budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year and to issue guidance on use of COVID-19 funds. The relevant provision becomes effective June 15, 2020.

July 6, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed the following bills into law in response to COVID-19:

  • House Bill 1023, which provides additional and revised uses for federal coronavirus relief funds as well as provides additional funding for school nutritional needs;
  • Senate Bill 816, which appropriates funds from the coronavirus relief fund to be used to offset general fund appropriations across state government for allowable expenditures; and
  • Senate Bill 208, which provides immunity for institutions of higher education for claims related to COVID-19 closures for spring 2020.
  • House Bill 902, which provides limited immunity from COVID-19 related claims arising from the reopening of privately owned community swimming pools;
  • Senate Bill 808, which appropriates coronavirus relief funds for behavioral health and crisis services, early childhood initiatives, and COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and trends tracking and analysis; and
  • House Bill 118, which provides limited immunity from liability for claims based on transmission of COVID-19.

July 1, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed the following bills into law in response to COVID-19:

  • House Bill 1080, which makes various changes to the revenue laws and codifies the insurance regulatory charge related to CARES Act; and
  • House Bill 1229, which appropriates $2 million to the division of employment security to strengthen unemployment insurance program integrity during the coronavirus pandemic and preventing certain payments to precinct officials from reducing unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Senate Bill 113 which clarified use of digital learning plan funds, made modifications to the 2020-2021 school calendar requirements to expand the use of remote learning days, and provided immunity for non-public schools for claims related to COVID-19 closures for 2019-2020.

June 30, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 113 into law, which was effective June 29, 2020. In response to COVID-19, the bill did the following:

  • Clarified use of digital learning plan funds;
  • Made modifications to the 2020-2021 school calendar requirements to expand the use of remote learning days; and
  • Provided immunity for non-public schools for claims related to COVID-19 closures for 2019-2020.

June 29, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 679 into law to amend the rules of civil procedure to allow for electronic filing and service. It is effective October 1, 2020, and applies to filings and service effected on or after that date.

June 24, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen Cooper signed Executive Order No. 147 to amend and extend Executive Order No. 141 so that North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks.

The Executive Order also requires face coverings to be worn in public places as officials seek to stabilize the trend of increasing viral spread. The order will have limited exceptions for people who are: (1) under eleven years of age; (2) actively eating or drinking; (3) strenuously exercising; (4) working at home; (5) in a personal vehicle; (6) subject to a specific medical or behavioral condition or disability.

Additionally, the order will increase access to COVID-19 testing through a statewide standing order for the duration of the State of Emergency, add more precisely tailored mitigation measures for long term care, and extend the prohibition against excessive pricing. The Executive Order is effective at 5:00 pm on June 26, 2020 until 5:00 pm on July 17, 2020.

June 22, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed a number of bills into law on June 19, 2020. These include:

  • House Bill 158, to require the Division of Motor Vehicles to temporarily waive the Road Test requirement for Level Two limited provisional licenses.
  • Senate Bill 836, to increase the amount of coronavirus relief funds used for the continuity of operation needs across the state government.

The Governor also vetoed House Bill 594, which would allow any indoor or outdoor exercise and fitness facilities, gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers to open and operate if certain conditions are met. Governor Cooper’s response for the veto was that, “Tying the hands of public health officials in times of pandemic is dangerous, especially when case counts and hospitalizations are rising. State and local officials must be able to take swift action during the COVID-19 emergency to prevent a surge of patients from overwhelming hospitals and endangering the lives of North Carolinians. The bill could restrict leaders who need to respond quickly to outbreaks and protect public health and safety.”

Governor Cooper also announced that North Carolina has created the nation’s first statewide technology platform, NCCARE360, to coordinate whole-person care uniting traditional healthcare settings and organizations that address non-medical drivers of health, such as food, housing, transportation, employment and interpersonal safety. NCCARE360 is now available in all 100 counties.

June 1, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 142 to extend the prohibition of utility shut-offs and implement a moratorium on evictions. The Order went into effect on May 30, 2020 and will remain in effect for three weeks for the evictions moratorium. The evictions moratorium prevents landlords from initiating summary ejections or other eviction proceedings against a tenant for nonpayment or late payment of rent. Landlords also may not charge late fees or other fees for non-payment. Additionally, interest cannot accrue while the Order is in effect. Instead, landlords must give tenants a minimum of six months to pay outstanding rent.

The utility moratorium lasts for 60 days and prohibits utility disconnections for all customers. It also prohibits billing or collection of late fees, penalties, and other charges for failure to pay. Repayment plans are extended for at least 6 months.

May 29, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina has received a $6 million federal grant to support jobs and workforce training to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the grant, eligible North Carolina residents may receive certain employment services or workforce training for industries that are hiring workers.

May 27, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper announced that $85.4 million in federal funds provided for COVID-19 relief to counties will be disbursed this week. Three large counties, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake, have already received funds directly from the federal government, and 59 other counties that have completed certification will receive funds this week from the state-administered Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was passed by Congress. Counties are encouraged to support municipalities with the funding as needed.

May 26, 2020:

On May 22, Governor Roy Cooper and Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Count on Me NC, which is a free online training program to help restaurants, hotels and other businesses learn the best ways to protect customers and employees from COVID-19. Businesses across North Carolina can participate in this no-cost training that was developed with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. It includes evidence-based practices on social distancing, employee health and sanitation to protect people’s health.

The first phase of Count on Me NC training is designed for restaurants and hospitality businesses that serve food. The program plans to expand to other tourism businesses including lodging and attractions and add courses in Spanish by June.

May 21, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will move into Safer At Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. Executive Order No. 141, “Easing Restrictions on Travel, Business Operations, and Mass Gatherings,” lifts the Stay-At-Home Order from Executive Order No. 138. Mass gatherings have been limited to no more than 10 people indoors or more than 25 people outdoors. The Order will remain in effect until June 26, 2020, at 5 p.m.

Under Phase Two, retail businesses must limit the number of customers in the store to 50% of the stated fire capacity, or for those places without a fire capacity, to twelve customers per 1,000 square feet of the location’s total square footage.

Restaurants may allow on-premises consumption of food and beverages. However, they must follow the occupancy that leads to the lowest number when applying the following three tests: (1) limit the number of customers to 50% of the stated fire capacity, or for those places without a fire capacity, to twelve customers per 1,000 square feet of the location’s total square footage; (2) an arrangement permitting groups to stay 6 feet apart; or (3) arrange the restaurant so that customers sitting at a table are not within 6 feet of any customers sitting at another table. Moreover, each group of customers sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by 6 feet. No more than ten 10 people shall be seated together at the same table. However, more than ten 10 people may sit together at the same table if they are members of the same household.

Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses may open again as long as they also limit the number of customers in the store to 50% of the stated fire capacity, for those places without a fire capacity, to twelve customers per 1,000 square feet of the location’s total square footage. They may also limit the number of people in the store to 6 feet apart to be in compliance.

Indoor and outdoor pools may open, also subject to the fire capacity requirements. Child care facilities may also reopen and serve all children in North Carolina.

However, the following business must remain closed during Phase Two: (1) entertainment and fitness facilities; and (2) bars that only serve alcohol on-premises.

May 13, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 139, which will provide additional regulatory flexibility to help ensure capacity in the state’s health care system and improve its ability to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order temporarily gives the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) the ability to waive or modify regulations for accreditation for asbestos and lead testing professionals, accreditation of local health departments, and regulations impacting child care and high-risk health care facilities. The Executive Order ensures that DHHS can utilize certain authority provided by the federal government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 6, 2020:

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home Order and to transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions. The Order is effective Friday, May 8, at 5 p.m.

Most importantly, the Order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and will be required to direct customers to stand six feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, screen workers for symptoms, and more. The Order allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.

During Phase 1, childcare facilities will be open to serve families of parents who are working or looking for work. These centers will be required to follow strict cleaning protocols. Additionally, summer day camps can operate in compliance with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.

Certain businesses remain closed: bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, take-out, and delivery.

Small outdoor gatherings will be allowed in Phase 1, but gatherings of more than 10 people are generally still prohibited.

Governor Cooper also announced that starting this week, school buses with Wi-Fi hot spots will bring internet access to communities without it to help more North Carolina K-12 students connect to school online. The buses will travel to underserved areas in school districts and park in designated locations, such as a school nutrition meal distribution site or a grocery store, so students can use this temporary access to turn in assignments, download materials and connect with teachers. The drive-up Wi-Fi access will also be available for all residents in the communities to use to connect to healthcare providers, apply for unemployment, and access other critical information and services while exercising appropriate social distancing precautions.

May 4, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed both North Carolina Senate Bill 704 and North Carolina House Bill 1043 into law to provide assistance to families, schools, hospitals and small businesses as the state battles COVID-19. The relief package includes almost $1.6 billion in relief measures for critical expenditures related to public health and safety, educational needs, small business assistance, and continuity of state government operations. Of this amount, $1.4 billion has been appropriated and $150 million is set aside in a reserve fund for future local government needs.

Senate Bill 704 contained provisions such as: (1) extending driver’s licenses and registration expiration deadlines; (2) waived interest on tax payments normally due in April; (3) modifies end-of-grade testing requirements for public schools; (4) adjusts the 2020-21 K-12 public school calendar; and (5) allows pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed.

April 30, 2020:

The North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 1043, The Pandemic Response Act, which provides $1.7 billion in funds for COVID-19 relief, including: recovery priorities, providing assistance for small businesses, streamlining access to unemployment benefits, modifying education requirements, ensuring continuity of government operations, and supporting healthcare facilities on the front lines of the public health crisis. The full Senate approved its coronavirus legislation, Senate Bill 704, unanimously April 29, 2020 with $1.4 billion in relief allocations. The two bills will now be reconciled as there are substantial differences between the two bills, both on policy and the monetary allocation, but lawmakers have said they expect to reach agreement quickly and send a final bill to Governor Roy Cooper, who prefers the House version.

(Wake County): Wake County is ending its local Stay-At-Home order on the evening of Thursday, April 30, 2020. Restrictions will be eased on Friday, May 1, 2020. The county’s more than 1 million people will instead follow North Carolina’s stay-at-home order, which allows small gatherings and larger funerals with social distancing. Starting at 12:01 a.m. May 1, gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, as well as up to 50 people at a funeral, as long as people outside an immediate household are six feet apart.

Wake County’s original stay-at-home order also had a stricter definition of essential businesses. The state’s order lists “businesses that meet social distancing requirements” as essential, while Wake County’s originally didn’t. That means bookstores, clothing shops and other retailers may reopen in Wake County as long as they follow social distancing. The state’s order also says stores are limited to 20% of their stated fire capacity, or five people per 1,000 square feet.

Hair salons, gyms and movie theaters remain closed, but other businesses that keep people six feet apart can stay open.

Wake County’s order applies to Raleigh, the unincorporated parts of Wake County and all the towns except Apex. Apex did not join the county’s decision Wednesday and plans to issue its own order.

April 24, 2020:

Governor Cooper announced the issuance of Executive Order No. 135, which extended North Carolina’s Stay At Home Order through May 8. It also extended the closure of bars and restaurants for dine-in service, and closure of other close-contact businesses. Governor Cooper had previously announced certain metrics that would be considered in determining whether to open the economy, and stated yesterday that the state has not yet seen a downward trajectory needed to gradually lift restrictions. Governor Cooper also shared details about plans to re-open the economy in three phases. Phase one involves opening more retail stores and permitting certain commercial activity, while still encouraging masks and restricting gatherings to 10 people; phase two involves lifting the stay at home order and allowing a limited opening of restaurants, bars, personal care services, and fitness centers, and increasing the number of people allowed at gatherings; phase three involves increased capacity at bars and restaurants, religious services, and entertainment venues.

April 19, 2020:

Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working with academic partners across the state to understand how widespread cases of COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms are in the state and to monitor prevalence of the disease over time.

April 17, 2020:

(Surf City): All Surf City beaches will reopen Saturday, April 18, 2020.

April 16, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper charted a path forward for eventually easing certain COVID-19 restrictions while still protecting North Carolinians from a dangerous second wave of the virus. In order to ease restrictions, the state needs to make more progress in three areas: testing, tracing and trends.

April 10, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper issued stronger social distancing requirements and sped up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131. The order requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. The order also makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same.

April 9, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 130, which to expands health care operations and temporarily permits increases or relocations of beds necessary for COVID-19 treatment. The Order also increases the pool of healthcare workers that may treat COVID-19 patients, including out of state licensed providers, retired providers, and skilled but unlicensed volunteers, by waiving certain admission and licensing regulations.

Additionally, the Order orders waives certain requirements of child care facilities and states that these facilities are only permitted to provide child care to children of essential business workers, children receiving child welfare services, or children who are homeless or living in unsafe conditions.

April 8, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

April 2, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper announced he would prohibit utilities from disconnecting people unable to pay during the pandemic. The Order applies to electric, gas, water and wastewater services for the next 60 days. The Order directs utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment. Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules.

April 1, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 122 to help schools and local governments access state surplus property to help bridge gaps during the response to COVID-19.

March 31, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121, issuing a Stay-At-Home order, begins today, March 30, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. It will remain in effect for thirty (30) days from today, April 29, 2020. The Executive Order closes all non-essential businesses. “Essential businesses” include: (1) businesses that meet social distancing requirements; (2) businesses operating in CISA identified sectors; (3) healthcare and public health operations; (4) human services operations; (5) essential infrastructure operations; (6) essential governmental operations; (7) stores that sell groceries and medicine; (8) food, beverage production, and agriculture; (9) organizations that provide charitable and social services; (10) religious entities; (11) media; (12) gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; (13) financial and insurance institutions; (14) home improvement, hardware, and supply stores; (15) critical trades; (16) mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; (17) educational institutions; (18) laundry services; (19) restaurants for consumption off-premises; (20) supplies to work from home; (21) supplies for COVID-19 essential businesses and operations; (22) transportation; (23) home-based care and services; (24) residential facilities and shelters; (25) professional services; (26) manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; (27) defense and military contractors; (28) hotels and motels; (29) funeral services; and (30) additional COVID-19 essential retail businesses.

March 30, 2020:

Governor Roy Cooper ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for thirty days, until April 29, 2020. The Executive Order also closed non-essential businesses. “Essential businesses” include: (1) businesses that meet social distancing requirements; (2) businesses operating in CISA identified sectors; (3) healthcare and public health operations; (4) human services operations; (5) essential infrastructure operations; (6) essential governmental operations; (7) stores that sell groceries and medicine; (8) food, beverage production, and agriculture; (9) organizations that provide charitable and social services; (10) religious entities; (11) media; (12) gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; (13) financial and insurance institutions; (14) home improvement, hardware, and supply stores; (15) critical trades; (16) mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; (17) educational institutions; (18) laundry services; (19) restaurants for consumption off-premises; (20) suppliers for work from home; (21) suppliers for COVID-19 essential businesses and operations; (22) transportation; (23) home-based care and services; (24) residential facilities and shelters; (25) professional services; (26) manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries; (27) defense and military contractors; (28) hotels and motels; (29) funeral services; and (30) additional COVID-19 essential retail businesses.

March 27, 2020:

(Wake County): Wake County’s Stay-At-Home Order takes effect at 5 p.m. on March 27. The order encompasses the County of Wake along with the City of Raleigh, and the towns of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon.

(Buncombe County): Buncombe County has issued a Stay-At-Home Order.

(Gaston County): The Gaston County Public Health Director has issued a Stay-At-Home Order that also ceases non-essential business operations.

(City of Winston-Salem): Mayor J. Allen Joines announced a Stay-At-Home Order for the city of Winston-Salem.

March 26, 2020: 

(Orange County): Orange County and the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough have issued a Stay-at-Home order to close all “non-essential businesses.” The list of “essential businesses” includes the list issued by the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity Infrastructure & Security Agency (CISA); businesses that sell, produce, or distribute groceries, medicine, or essential household goods; human service operations; healthcare and public health operations; media and communication services and products; gas station and businesses needed for transportation; financial and insurance institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades; mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; educational institutions; laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; services and supplies for essential businesses, essential government services, or minimal basic operations; transportation; home-based care and services; residential facilities or shelters; professional services; childcare facilities; hotels and motels; and funeral services.

(City of Greensboro): On March 25, in conjunction with Guilford County and the City of High Point, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan issued a Stay-at-Home order for Greensboro residents, effective Friday, March 27 at 5:00 pm. The order is in effect through Thursday, April 16. Residents are allowed to go to grocery stores, pharmacies, health care appointments and outdoor exercise, while exercising proper social distancing. Restaurants are permitted to offer take-out and delivery service. All non-essential business and other operations for the City of Greensboro are required to cease in-person operations.

(Mecklenburg County): Mecklenburg County’s Stay-At-Home Order takes effect today. The order will be valid until April 16, 2020.

March 25, 2020: 

(City of Durham): North Carolina’s fourth largest city, Durham, announced a Stay-At-Home order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel announced the order will have exceptions for those seeking medical treatment, buying food, or exercising outdoors. Essential workers, such as hospital and medical staff, law enforcement and firefighters, food service and grocery store employees, local government employees, etc., will be allowed to travel to work. The order will not prohibit restaurants from providing take-out or delivery options. It also does not prohibit day cares, homeless shelters, and government agencies from operating. The order will be in effect until April 30, 2020.

(Mecklenburg County): Mecklenburg County has issued a Stay-At-Home order for Mecklenburg County, including the City of Charlotte, which takes effect March 26, 2020, at 8 a.m. The order will be valid until April 16, 2020. All “non-essential businesses” must cease and public and private gatherings or more than 10 people are prohibited.

Those in the industries of health care and public heath operations, human services operations, essential infrastructure, and essential government functions are exempt from this order. Furthermore, “essential businesses” include stores that sell groceries and medicine; food, beverage, and agriculture; organizations that provide charitable and social services; media; gas stations and businesses needed for transportation; financial institutions; hardware and supply stores; critical trades; mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services; educational institutions for distance learning; laundry services; restaurants for consumption off-premises; supplies to work from home; supplies for essential business and operations; transportation; home-based care and services; residential facilities and shelters; professional services; childcare centers; manufacture, distribution and supply chain; hotels and motels; and funeral services.

“Essential businesses” must still follow social distancing requirements at work.

All places of public amusement, such as bowling alley, movie theaters, concerts, country clubs, and more are closed.

(Wake County): Greg Ford, who chairs the Wake County Board of Commissioners, confirmed that, "due to the quickly escalating public health emergency caused by COVID-19, Wake County will share details about a Stay-At-Home Order very soon." Ford said, "County staff have been working with urgency on a draft declaration based on that input, and we will make an announcement at a press conference tomorrow. Details will be shared in an advisory later today." Commissioner Vicki Adamson said the order will only apply for unincorporated parts of the county, but that Wake is "asking for our municipalities to join up so it is consistent throughout the county."

March 23, 2020: 

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 120 to limit gatherings to 50 people. Governor Cooper also ordered entertainment facilities without a retail or dining component to close. These include bowling alleys, health clubs, pools, performance venues, movie theaters, spas, exercise facilities, and more. Furthermore, personal care and grooming businesses are now ordered closed. The Executive Order is effective at 5:00 p.m. March 25, 2020, and shall remain in effect for 30 days unless rescinded or superseded by another Executive Order.

The closure of K-12 schools has been extended until May 15, 2020.

March 22, 2020:  

Wake County, North Carolina (Raleigh), declared issued a new State of Emergency Declaration. The declaration requires the closure of fitness clubs, gyms, hair and nail salons, spas, tanning, massage, and tattoo salons, and other professional grooming services. 

The Declaration also prohibited gatherings of 50 people or more. This does not include organizations that provide critical services like hospitals, government operations and financial institutions. It also excludes retailers that provide essentials goods like grocery stores, pharmacies, pet stores and hardware stores.

(Dare County/Outer Banks): Dare County has closed to visitors and non-resident property owners. Those residents and businesses that wish to be in Dare County must apply for an entry permit.

March 18, 2020:  

Mecklenburg County Health Director, Gibbie Harris, ordered gyms, health clubs, and theaters to close.

The ban also prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people until April 12. However, it does not include the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, bus or light rail stops, residential buildings, hotels, shelters, grocery stores and shopping malls.

March 17, 2020:  

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 118 which closes sit-down services at restaurants and bars. The restriction is in effect until March 31, 2020.

The order also makes state unemployment benefits more widely available.

March 16, 2020:  

North Carolina will stop eviction and foreclosure hearings for the next 30 days as part of the court system’s latest effort to reduce courthouse traffic and slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said that eviction orders already in the pipeline will be carried out unless the courts step in to stop them.

March 15, 2020:  

Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order to close all K-12 public schools for a minimum of two weeks in response to COVID-19. The schools are to close Monday, March 16.

The Executive Order also bans gatherings of more than 100 people in a single room or space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, or other confined indoor or outdoor space, including parades, fairs and festivals.

March 12, 2020:  

Governor Roy Cooper provided guidance to cancel or to postpone gatherings over 100 people and to telework if possible.

March 10, 2020:  

Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency, which actives the Emergency Operation Center, and allows for control of cost burdens, protects consumers from price gouging, and makes it easier to purchase necessary medical supplies.

February 11, 2020:  

Governor Roy Cooper formalized the state’s ongoing effort to monitor, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 with a state Novel Coronavirus Task Force.

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