Gov. Roy Cooper has issued a series of statewide orders restricting certain activities to slow the spread of COVID-19. Phase 2 easing of restrictions began at 5 p.m. May 22 with conditions added by Orange County's declaration of a state of emergency. The direction of testing, contact tracing and other trends will determine the length of each phase.
The state orders recommend that people remain at home except for work, commercial activity, outdoor exercise and to provide help to a loved one. The orders prohibit most indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people. Everyone is directed to remain at least 6 feet from anyone not in their household.
Orange County declaration
Orange County's third and fourth extensions of its state of emergency declaration adopt the declarations of the state's May 20 order and extend them through Aug. 31. They also have added the following restrictions:
- Indoor gatherings — The county declaration extends the state's order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 or fewer people to include public meetings. The only exceptions are worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings and funerals.
- Long term care facilities — The county declaration requires that restrictions and requirements placed on skilled nursing facilities in the state's order be extended to all long-term care facilities.
- Restaurants — Restaurants must limit the number of customers at tables so that no more than six people are seated together at the same table unless they are part of the same household.
Orange County fifth amendment to emergency declaration — effective June 26
State allowances and limitations
The state's restrictions are intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals and keep first responders safe.
The orders recommend that all residents of the state remain at home unless they are:
- Seeking health care for themselves, a pet or others ― This includes transporting others who should not or cannot leave their homes. Call health providers first to determine if you need to be seen.
- Shopping, picking up takeout food, using a drive-thru or patronizing any other business that is allowed to be open.
- Exercising outdoors ― This includes walking, running or biking on sidewalks, greenways, trails, in personal yards or in open spaces at neighborhoods and apartment and townhouse complexes.
- Going to work if in a permitted role that cannot be done remotely.
- Caring for a family member, friend or pet in another household.
Anyone leaving their homes should comply with the CDC recommendation to stay at least 6 feet apart from others.
The state orders include constraints on:
- Certain business operations. See the order documents section below for more information.
- Visits to people in nursing homes, long-term care or assisted living facilities.
- Gatherings. Outdoor gatherings must be limited to 25 or fewer people. Indoor gatherings must be limited to 10 or fewer people.
Additionally, the orders recommend limiting certain types of travel.
The state has mandated use of face coverings in many situations. The requirement applies:
- While indoors other than in a private home.
- While in a public transportation vehicle.
- While outdoors and unable to maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others.
Face coverings are not required:
- For those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability.
- For children under 11 years old.
- For children whose parents or guardians are unable to place the face covering properly.
- While actively eating or drinking.
- While strenuously exercising.
- When speaking to a hearing-impaired person who needs to lip-read.
- While giving a speech for a broadcast or for an audience.
- When working at home, in a personal vehicle or in a personal office.
- If wearing a face covering would create a workplace safety issue.
- If wearing a face covering would impede visibility required to safely operate a vehicle or equipment.
- Temporarily, while securing government services or medical services, or for identification purposes.
Only businesses and organizations that do not enforce the face covering requirement may be cited, not individuals. Individuals may be cited for trespassing if they refuse to comply or leave the premises. See the Enforcement section of this webpage for reporting information.
N.C. Executive Order No. 147, FAQ — including information about face coverings
Personal care business reports
All complaints related to hair salons, barbers, nail salons, waxers, threaders, skin care and similar businesses must be directed to the N.C. Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners. An online form is available.
Environmental health complaints
For business-related environmental health complaints, contact the Orange County Environmental Health Division through its online form or call 919-245-2360 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
For other reports, contact Hillsborough police online anytime or at 919-296-9500 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 911 for emergencies or if neither option is available. Police will follow up on any violation reports.
Phase 2 of the reopening plan allows more businesses to be open. Businesses should see the documents below for additional reopening guidance.
Any open stores must provide education to employees to combat misinformation and implement:
- Appropriate employee and consumer social distancing.
- Enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols.
- Face covering requirements for employees.
- Symptom screening of employees.
- Accommodations for vulnerable workers.
The state has placed the following restrictions on businesses under the stay at home order:
- Certain businesses must remain closed, including bars, nightclubs and gyms. Restaurants, personal care businesses and several other types of businesses can be open with restrictions. See the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services guidance for more information.
- Most places of business are allowed to have inside 50% of the occupancy limits posted by the fire marshal or up to 12 people per 1,000 square feet. The emergency maximum occupancy must be posted in a conspicuous place. If the business expects to reach that level of occupancy, it must post sufficient staff at entrances and exits to enforce the limit.
- Restaurants are subject to additional limitations on occupancy and distancing. For more information, see the Interim Guidance for Restaurants document below.
- Retail businesses are required to mark 6-foot social distancing spacing for customers at checkouts and other locations where there is an expectation of high numbers of people congregating or waiting in line, including outside the business.
- Retail establishments are required to perform frequent and routine cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces.
- Teleworking is encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
Additional business guidance and resources are available in the documents below and on the state's COVID-19 Guidance webpage.
Water system flushing guidance
The town has created water system flushing guidance for any facility that has been closed for more than a few days or has been operating at reduced capacity. The guidance is contained in the document linked below.
Water systems and devices in closed or underutilized buildings should be flushed to ensure stale water is removed and fresh water with disinfectant is available. This reestablishes water quality and prevents waterborne illness. It includes all water-using appliances, like ice machines and dishwashers, and all water treatment devices, such as filters and water softeners. The disinfectant added to drinking water begins to dissipate over time, and pathogens can begin to grow.
A comprehensive guide is now available to provide businesses with the best known guidance to ensure consumer confidence and to promote community health during the pandemic. It includes recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, and local public and environmental health professionals.
The guide was drafted by the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with other entities in Chatham and Orange counties, including the Town of Hillsborough. It is in the form of a Google document to allow updates as new information is made available. The guide is available at www.reopeninghelp.com.
Frequently asked questions
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Why are the state orders in place?
The orders are intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals, and keep first responders safe. North Carolina is considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus. According to the CDC, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). However, some spread may be possible before people show symptoms.
Can I leave my house at all under the state orders?
Yes. You can leave home to shop, pick up takeout food, use a drive-thru or patronize any other business that is allowed to be open. You can gather socially outdoors in groups of 25 or fewer people or indoors in groups of 10 or fewer people with appropriate social distancing measures. Stay 6 feet from others not in your household to protect yourself and others from transmission of the virus. See the Orange County declaration section of this webpage for information about face covering requirements.
The orders say exercise is allowed. Can I take my kids to a playground or park?
Members of the community are encouraged to get outside for walks, runs, bike rides and other recreation in public spaces, but community members must maintain a distance of 6 feet from others to avoid spreading the virus. Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. Community members should wear face coverings outdoors in situations where social distancing is difficult. See the Face coverings section of this webpage for more information. See information and a video below on social distancing.
- Town greenways and open spaces remain available for public use. This includes trails and fields in town parks. Organized games that bring people into distances that are too close should not take place.
- Picnic shelters and fields are available for use with social distancing. Community members are encouraged to disinfect picnic tables and benches before use. Organized games that bring people close together on open spaces should not occur.
- Playground equipment at town parks is closed for use under state orders because it is not sanitized, and its use brings people into distances that are too close.
No public recreation spaces will be available for rental use by groups or individuals until further notice.
How do I know I'm staying 6 feet away from others?
Use our guide Social Distancing: What Does 6 Feet Look Like to help get an idea of the actual physical distance you need to keep between yourself and others not in your household.
Staying 6 feet away from others requires stepping aside or off walkways to allow others to pass when outside exercising or when in stores for essential needs. If you're using the Riverwalk greenway, keep in mind that the trail is:
- 6 feet wide from downtown to the trail that leads to the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail.
- 8 feet wide from downtown to Gold Park.
What should people do when shopping or otherwise entering a place of business?
The community is reminded to maintain a distance of 6 feet from one another while patronizing businesses. See the Orange County declaration section of this webpage for information about face covering requirements. See our news release with shopping and takeout tips.
How will police respond to reports of businesses in violation of a state order?
Police will follow up on any violation reports.
If a report of a business in violation is not an emergency or critical situation, police will refer it to a town government task force. The task force will determine whether businesses are in compliance with an order. If a business cannot be open under the order, police will follow up with enforcement. If the business can be open but is not in compliance, the task force will work with the business to reach compliance. Police with follow up with enforcement if necessary.
How will police respond to people who are in violation of a state order?
Hillsborough officers will educate people and seek voluntary compliance before considering pursuing any arrest or charge. Communication will be the primary tool to resolve situations where people may be in violation. Violation of an order is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and people could be arrested for violating it. However, charging people will be considered a last resort and will generally be reserved for situations that are especially egregious or where there are repeat violations. If officers do have to charge someone, they will opt for issuing a citation over making a custodial arrest wherever possible.
What will happen if police encounter children congregating in ways that are in violation of a state order?
Police know children are less likely to understand the seriousness of the order. As with adults found to be congregating, officers will likely approach them and educate them on the order and advise them of better options. If behaviors are especially problematic, officers may attempt to contact parents, but charges of any form will only be pursued against juveniles in the most extreme of situations.
Parents are encouraged to share the seriousness of physical distancing and the stay at home order with children. The virus can be dangerous for all ages. In addition, the CDC states some transmission of the virus may be possible before people show symptoms. See our news release directed to teens with tips from teens.
How are religious institutions affected by the orders?
There are no restrictions on the number of participants in a religious service. However, participants should follow social distancing and other guidelines to limit the risk of transmission.
Please help share the following resources.
N.C. order documents
N.C. executive order documents referenced on this webpage are available below. All N.C. executive order documents related to COVID-19 are available on the state website.
N.C. Executive Order No. 141 — Phase 2 easing of COVID-19 restrictions, effective May 22
N.C. Executive Order No. 147 Phase 2 extension and face covering mandate, effective June 26
N.C. Executive Order No. 147, FAQ — including information about face coverings