Orange County issues stay-at-home order beginning Friday to deal with coronavirus, here's what that means

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Thursday, March 26, 2020
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Raleigh leaders are expected to order all residents to stay home on Thursday.

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Orange County officials announced a stay-at-home order for the county on Thursday morning in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter, Commissioners Sally Green and Penny Rich said the order follows the guidance of Durham's order issued Wednesday.

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

The order prohibits gatherings of 10 people or more in public or private settings. In any gatherings under 10 people, all participants must practice social distancing.


Greene said the order is in effect starting Friday at 6 p.m. through at least April 30 but can be shortened or lengthened at any time.

Under the order, all businesses not labeled as an "essential business"--and businesses that cannot allow employees to work from home or conduct buisiness remotely or via curbside pickup and delivery--must close.

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All Orange County residents can only leave their house for essential reasons critical to health and safety. If leaving the home, social distancing guidelines must be met.

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

Orange County officials 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 who need urgent care
  • Going to or from educational institutions to get remote learning materials or food

Orange County declared a state of emergency on March 13. As of Wednesday morning, 13 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the county, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

Coronavirus: Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19

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