In light of new information today regarding the presence of community spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina, local jurisdictions should enforce the more stringent Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard issued by the Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services, which states that “seating areas of restaurants and bars constitute an imminent hazard for the spread of COVID-19.”
Restaurants shall close all seating areas immediately and bars are directed to close immediately. Restaurants are restricted to carry-out, drive-through, and delivery to ensure food is available while maintaining social distancing. Restaurant staff are not permitted to serve patrons indoors or in the outdoor seating area, and all areas of North Carolina are subject to mass gathering restrictions and social distancing guidelines. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Governor’s Order of Abatement.
In Buncombe County, the Local State of Emergency Supplemental Declaration limits public gatherings to no more than 10 people. This order applies to all of Buncombe County and its six municipalities and went into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19.
The intent of this Local State of Emergency Supplemental Declaration is to decrease the risk of exposure and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Buncombe County through social distancing. Social Distancing is a specific strategy, proven by data to severely lessen the impact of high consequence pathogens by minimizing the opportunity for close contact encounters.
The declaration achieves this goal by mandating the closure of specified businesses and entertainment venues.
This Declaration applies to gyms and fitness centers (include: martial arts studios, cross-fit gyms, dance studios) indoor pools, spas (spas include: massage parlors, medical spas, nail salons, beauty parlors, hair dressers, even one chair salons, barber shops) and tattoo parlors, movie theaters, live performance venues, and arcades (including bowling alleys, indoor recreation centers, climbing gyms, trampoline parks, escape rooms).
This is not an exhaustive list. If your business or service delivery requires you to be within 6 ft. of another person for a duration of 10 minutes or more, then it is likely that it falls within the Local State of Emergency Supplemental Declaration.
This Declaration does not include grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware stores, gas stations, farmers markets, and food distribution sites selling prepared food. These are locations where the public are not generally in close contact with other patrons.
This local Declaration also mandates that there will be no public gatherings of Ten (10) persons or more. This limitation on gatherings to 10 people does not include normal operations at medical facilities, recovery groups, airports, bus and train stations, shopping malls, office environments, factories, and child care centers.
Essential health and safety services are exempt from this Declaration. Again, this is an effort to be proactive and to save lives. This next week is absolutely critical in Buncombe Counties fight against the spread of COVID-19. These enhanced measures we are implementing now are vital in reducing the impact the disease will have on our community in the long-term. Buncombe County Public Health will re-evaluate these measures ongoing on Friday, March 27, 2020.
More information at www.buncombecounty.org