Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Friday that a statewide stay-at-home order will start next week, saying more movement restrictions are needed to blunt the new coronavirus and prevent hospitals from being overrun by cases.
Cooper said the order will take effect at 5 p.m. Monday and last 30 days. It will prevent people from leaving their homes except for work that’s considered essential, along with activities such as getting food, going to the doctor or exercising. Cooper’s order also bans groups of more than 10 people, and individuals who are outdoors are asked to stay 6 feet apart.
The governor’s order also states that orders written by cities and counties remain in effect.
The effects of such local orders were apparent across the state. In Atlantic Beach, a popular beach destination for Greenville residents, streets were nearly deserted despite Friday’s sunny spring weather, a reflection of the town urging vacation and hotel management companies to refuse reservations until April 6.
The town also closed all public beach access, parking lots and public restrooms. Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach Circle, the Town Park and all bars are also closed.
As of Friday afternoon, North Carolina had 763 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 60 counties. Seventy-seven people are hospitalized. Pitt County on Friday reported its 11th confirmed case of COVID-19. The Pitt County Public Health Department’s communicable disease staff was investigating the case.
Vidant Health released a statement praising Cooper’s action.
“This is an important step to keep North Carolina communities safe as well as health care workers and others serving on the front lines,” The statement read. “We also appreciate the bold leadership we’ve seen here in eastern North Carolina. We are proud that the East continues to do its part to flatten the curve. We are all in this together.”
When Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly signed a stay home order for the city on Wednesday, he said a statewide stay home order would be more effective in battling the virus’ spread.
Connelly on Friday said he was pleased with the governor’s order but had concerns that citizens may be confused.
“We know that with orders coming from the counties, cities, and now the state, this can create confusion among residents,” Connelly said. “Therefore, I want to ensure that residents and businesses of Greenville know that the city’s Stop the Spread Order is the one that applies to them until its expiration on April 10. As a reminder, this order limits movement throughout the city to only that which involves essential work or activities.”
Once the city order expires, the governor’s order will apply to all Greenville residents until it expires on April 29, Connelly said.
Friday was the first full day of the City of Greenville’s emergency proclamation ordering people to remain home unless they were working, engaging in essential business or seeking medical care.
“It does appear that for the most part people are following the order,” said Kristen Hunter, Greenville Police Department spokeswoman. “We have received a handful of complaints about businesses operating past the deadline. However, the businesses we have had to make contact with have complied with the order after further education.”
The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office reported similar cooperation from residents in the unincorporated areas of the county.
“For the most part everyone has been great with the stay at home order,” said Capt. Robin Abbott with the sheriff’s office patrol division. “There have also been no instances of the non-essential businesses staying open that we are aware of.” Business owners and the public are being very understanding and cooperative, he said.
Since Cooper first issued orders requiring bars and restaurants to close dining room spaces and serve only take-out, campaigns have been underway to encourage Pitt County residents to support local restaurants by ordering take-out.
Despite this effort, the owners of one well-known local restaurant decided to close its doors for the immediate future.
Matt and Erin Scully, owners of The Scullery, announced on Thursday they are closing effective Monday.
“We will reopen as soon as we can, but we need to make smart decisions now to make that possible,” the Scullys said in a Facebook post. “The Stay At Home Order that goes into effect (Thursday) has us thinking that we all need to stay home. The health and safety of our staff is more important than The Scullery.”
The email said the restaurant’s revenues are not the same since dine-in closure was ordered.
“We struggle every month and most of the time we are paying last week’s invoices with this week’s sales,” the notice stated. “That has always worked because we know you’re going to be here tomorrow. Then the past two weeks happen, and unfortunately we’re not keeping up.”
The restaurant, which had made a name for itself through its support of local community organizations, is open this weekend in effort “to raise enough money to pay our employees and vendors” and “to use up as much of our fresh products as we can.”
Help for families
Recognizing the growing economic hardship facing Pitt County residents, the United Way of Pitt County has created a United Way COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to support vulnerable local families.
Contributions will be used to help meet the basic needs of families whose members have lost work or are facing other financial hardships.
The money also will be used to mobilize the emergency network of agencies, support nonprofit partnerships to help meet the surge of assistance requests and supplement service capacity.
Text PittStrong to 313131 and/or give online at www.uwpcnc.org/covid19.
“United Way of Pitt County will do its part to help working families experiencing the loss of income due to quarantine or shelter in place, families and children affected by closures of schools, individuals who have limited ability to access food and medical prescriptions, and others affected by this crisis,” said, Jim Lawless, interim executive director.
Assistance and resources also can be found by dialing 211.
NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service, operated by United Way of North Carolina, where families and individuals can obtain free and confidential information on health and human service resources within their community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Resources are available in most languages.
“NC 2-1-1 is an important resource every day for families in our community who may experience a crisis such as food insecurity or unemployment, Lawless said. “During times like this with the COVID-19 crisis, the needs of all North Carolinians will increase and I am proud 2-1-1 will be here to help.”
North Carolinians can text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates about COVID-19. They can sign up to get regular alerts on the rapidly evolving situation and North Carolina’s response. Individuals who have specific needs related to food, shelter, energy assistance, housing, parenting resources, health care, substance abuse treatment, as well as specific resources for older adults and for persons with disabilities, should dial 2-1-1 or TTY 888-892-1162 for assistance.
NC 2-1-1 cannot provide direct medical services and COVID-19 can only be diagnosed by a health care professional.
The Associated Press contrinuted to this article.