Gov. Roy Cooper has issued a series of statewide orders restricting certain activities to slow the spread of COVID-19. Phase 2.5 easing of restrictions began at 5 p.m. Sept. 4 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 county's state of emergency is in effect through Oct. 31.
The state orders recommend that people remain at home except for work, commercial activity, outdoor exercise and to provide help to a loved one. Orange County prohibits 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, and the state has mandated use of face coverings in many situations. See the face coverings section below for more information.
Orange County restrictions
In addition to the state's restrictions, Orange County limits indoor gatherings to 10 or fewer people and outdoor gatherings to 25 or fewer people. The only exceptions are worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings and funerals.
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 5 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.
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.
Businesses should see the documents below and the Orange County restrictions section above 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 and nightclubs. Restaurants, personal care businesses, gyms 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.
- Gyms are subject to additional limitations on occupancy.
- 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 and county declaration in place?
The orders and declaration 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.
Are parks, greenways and playgrounds open?
Parks, greenways and playgrounds are open with some restrictions. See the Town Services Affected by COVID-19 webpage for more information.
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.
Are bars allowed to open? What about restaurant alcohol sales?
Bars are not allowed to open. Restaurants may sell alcohol, except between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
How are religious institutions affected by the state orders and county declaration?
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.
Can I visit a family member in a nursing home?
NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen has issued a secretarial order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. Nursing homes must meet several requirements, including:
- Not having a current outbreak.
- Having a testing plan and updated written infection control or preparedness plan for COVID-19.
- Having adequate personal protective equipment.
Current data indicates that risk of transmission in outdoor settings is lower compared to indoor settings. The continued use of technology to keep families connected as much as possible is still highly encouraged.
How are weddings and funerals affected by the state orders and county declaration?
Wedding and funeral ceremonies are exempt from maximum gathering limits. However, receptions, rehearsal dinners and other nonreligious gatherings are limited to 10 participants indoors and 25 outdoors. Table service provided by catering services is allowed for groups that do not exceed limits.
How will police respond to reports of businesses in violation of a state order or the county declaration?
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, 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 or the county declaration?
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 or the county declaration?
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.
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. 138 — Phase 1 easing of COVID-19 restrictions, effective May 8
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. 163 — Phase 2.5 easing of COVID-19 restrictions, effective Sept. 4
N.C. Secretarial Order No. 3 — visitation for nursing homes, effective Sept. 4
N.C. Secretarial Order No. 4 — mandatory testing for nursing home staff, effective Sept. 21
N.C. Secretarial Order No. 5 — extension of N.C. Secretarial Order No. 3, effective Sept. 22