DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Mayor Steve Schewel officially announced a stay-at-home order for the City of Durham on Wednesday morning in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
At a news conference, Schewel said he expects Durham County to issue a similar order in the next few days.
Though Schewel said most of the county's 74 COVID-19 cases were related to travel, eight have been identified as cases of community transmission.
"This is our window to intervene," Schewel said. "If we are going to stop the spread of the virus, this is our window."
Schewel said he recognized that many Durham residents are out of work because of the virus or its consequences, but emphasized that early intervention would prevent more severe economic consequences.
Watch the full news conference here:
The order prohibits gatherings of 10 people or more in public or private settings. In any gatherings under 10 people, all participants must practice social distancing.
Schewel said the stay-at-home order is legally enforceable order by police -- though the city does not expect to arrest or cite people who violate the order; but officers can disperse any gatherings of 10 people or more.
The order is in effect starting Thursday at 6 p.m. through at least April 30 but is subject to revision.
Under the order, all businesses not labeled as an "essential business" and that cannot allow employees to work from home must close.
All Durham residents -- except those traveling to or from essential businesses or participating in essential activities --are prohibited from being on city streets or in public spaces.
Essential businesses include:
- Businesses essential for homeland security and cyber security, including the electrical grid
- Businesses for groceries, medicine or household goods
- Human services operations that cannot be accessed by phone or online
- Health care and public health options
- Media operations and first-amendment-protected speech
- Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation, including bike shops and car dealerships
- Financial and insurance institutions for operations that cannot be accessed online
- Hardware and supply stores
- Critical trades, including plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning staff, security staff, painters, moving services, HVAC, and operating engineers
- Mail and shipping services
- Educational institutions practicing social distancing and/or online instruction
- Laundry services
- Restaurants for takeout or delivery only
- Services that provide supplies for essential businesses
- Transportation, both public and private
- Home-based care services
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Childcare facilities
- Hotel and motels
- Funeral Services
- Outdoor services including construction and lawn maintenance, as long as social distancing is maintained
- Professional services that are necessary at this time, including legal services, accounting and notary services
- Real estate services are limited to appraisal and title services only
Schewel said non-essential businesses could stay open, as long as they only conduct business online or via mail order. Businesses that comply with social distancing and allow workers to work from home can allow the minimum number of people present to keep the business open.
Permitted activities under the order include:
- Tasks essential to the health and safety of oneself or a family member or pet
- Obtaining necessary supplies
- Walking, hiking, running, biking, golfing or playing tennis outside, as long as social distancing guidelines are met
- Working at an essential business or working from home
- Taking care of family members, friends or pets
- Going to or from educational institutions to get remote learning materials or food
Schewel told media that the earlier the city takes action, the sooner things can get back to normal.
"This is not something to fear. It is something to take control of," Schewel said. "Don't think of yourself as a victim of this coronavirus, think of someone who's empowering yourself to stay safe."
Nationally, the White House and Senate leaders reached a deal on a $2 trillion measure to aid the economy early Wednesday morning. The deal includes a plan to send checks to Americans as the country struggles with the coronavirus outbreak.
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