Gov. Roy Cooper has issued a series of statewide orders restricting certain activities to slow the spread of COVID-19. Current restrictions:
- Prohibit most indoor gatherings of more than 50 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
- Direct everyone to wear a face covering when around anyone who does not live in their household with a few exceptions.
See the sections below for more information.
The state has mandated use of face coverings in many situations. The requirement applies:
- While indoors in a private or public setting with anyone who does not live in the same household.
- While in a private or public transportation vehicle if traveling with people who do not live in the same household. (Customers may be denied entry to public transportation if they refuse to wear a face covering.)
- While outdoors and unable to maintain a 6-foot physical distance from people who do not live in the same household.
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 5 years old.
- For children whose parents or guardians are unable to place the face covering properly.
- While actively eating or drinking.
- 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.
Businesses and organizations that do not enforce the face covering requirement, as well as individuals not in compliance, may be cited. See the "N.C. order documents" section of this webpage for more information. See the "enforcement" section of this webpage for reporting information.
The state prohibits most indoor gatherings of more than 50 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
Maximum gathering limits do not apply to:
- Religious worship services.
- Wedding and funeral ceremonies.
Special event permits
Most events that are open to the general public or that require street closings require a Special Event Permit. As part of the review process, event plans will be reviewed for COVID-19 safety. See the Special Events Permit page for more information on applying for a permit.
Guidance on gatherings is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and Orange County websites.
If you are considering offering a gathering, you can receive a COVID-19 safety review of your plans from the Orange County Environmental Health Division by visiting the COVID Safety Plan Review page.
The state has placed the following capacity restrictions on businesses and facilities as long as other safety restrictions are followed, including maintaining 6 feet of distance between patrons. Capacity percentages are related to occupancy limits posted by the fire marshal.
Full capacity allowed:
- Retail businesses
- Personal care businesses
- Child care
- Outdoor spaces of restaurants, pools, fitness and physical activity facilities, and amusement parks
75% capacity indoors allowed:
- Restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries
- Fitness and physical activity facilities
- Amusement parks
50% capacity allowed:
- Indoor areas of movie theaters and entertainment facilities
- Indoor and outdoor areas of bars, meeting spaces, conference centers, reception venues, stadiums and arenas
These apply to bars and restaurants:
- Groups of guests must be separated by 6 feet.
- Guests must remain seated unless entering, exiting, using amenities, visiting the restroom or obtaining food or drinks.
- Businesses must post their emergency maximum occupancy limits 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.
- Retail business locations with more than 15,000 square feet of interior space must have a worker at each entrance open to the public who is responsible for enforcing the state's face covering and emergency maximum occupancy requirements.
- 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 on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) page of this website.
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.
Frequently asked questions
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions. The state also has FAQs available online.
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.
Are parks, greenways and playgrounds open?
Parks, greenways and playgrounds are open. Face coverings must be worn when distances of 6 feet cannot be consistently maintained. See the Town Services Affected by COVID-19 webpage for more information.
Are face coverings required while exercising indoors?
In indoor gyms and fitness facilities, face coverings are required when people are exercising.
How do I know I'm staying 6 feet away from others?
Six feet is about three or more adult steps. Use our guide Social Distancing: What Does 6 Feet Look Like to get an idea of the 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.
Are face coverings required while dining indoors?
In restaurants, guests are required to wear face coverings at their table unless they are actively eating or drinking.
How are religious institutions affected by the state 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.
How are weddings and funerals affected by the state orders?
Wedding and funeral ceremonies are exempt from maximum gathering limits. However, receptions, rehearsal dinners and other nonreligious gatherings are subject to business restrictions for the venues.
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 the business 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 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. Violation charges will be considered a last resort and generally will 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 these orders. As with adults found to be congregating, officers will likely 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 other COVID-19 restrictions with children.
Please help share the following resources.
Face Coverings Required in Public (English and Spanish)
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. 204 — easing of restrictions, effective March 26, 2021
N.C. Executive Order No. 206 — extension of eviction restrictions, effective March 31, 2021
N.C. Secretarial Order No. 4 — mandatory testing for nursing home staff, effective Sept. 21, 2020
N.C. Secretarial Order No. 6 — revised visitation rules for nursing homes, effective Sept. 28, 2020