Stay at Home Order
In light of growing concerns regarding COVID-19, Orange County and the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough have issued a stay at home order for all county residents through 5 p.m. April 30. See town news releases on the order below.
Both orders direct people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. They also ban gatherings of more than 10 people and direct everyone to physically stay at least 6 feet from others.
The stay at home order is intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals and keep first responders safe.
Under this order, all residents of the county are to remain at home unless they are:
- Seeking health care or medical supplies 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 for necessary food, household or automobile supplies for themselves or others ― This includes picking up takeout food or using a drive-thru.
- 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 essential role that cannot be done remotely.
- Caring for a family member, friend or pet in another household.
Anyone leaving their homes must reasonably comply with the CDC recommendation to stay at least 6 feet apart from others.
The stay at home order limits:
- Non-essential travel.
- What is considered essential businesses and operations. See the order linked in the Documents section of this page.
- Visits to people in nursing homes, long-term care or assisted living facility. See the order linked in the Documents section of this page.
While the stay at-home order is in place:
- Do not go to work unless providing essential services or to perform limited business operations as outlined in the order linked in the Documents section of this page.
- Do not visit friends and family unless there is an urgent need.
- Do not gather in public places.
Differences between county and statewide orders
Below are notable differences between the stay at home orders issued by the county and state governments. Where there are differences in state and local orders, the governor has said to follow the more restrictive order.
Follow county order
Orange County residents should adhere to the county order regarding:
- Length of order ― The state order is in effect through April 29, while the county order is in effect through April 30.
- Funerals ― The state order exempts funerals from the 10-person limit for gatherings, allowing up to 50 people at a funeral. The county order requires funerals maintain the 10-person limit.
- Playgrounds ― The state order closes public playgrounds. The county order closes public and private playgrounds.
More explicit guidance
The state order provides more direction on travel and essential operations. It advises businesses not identified on the essential businesses list to contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue for a determination on operation.
The state order explicitly allows travel:
- To and from places of worship.
- To volunteer with charitable and social service organizations.
- To and from residences for visitation and custody arrangements.
- To receive goods and services provided by an otherwise essential business operation.
Regarding essential operations, the state order specifically:
- Allows businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions that meet social distancing requirements to remain open as essential business operations.
- Allows defense and military contractors to continue operations.
- Identifies as “essential infrastructure operations” functions like utilities, food and beverage production, landscaping, telecommunications, and other items needed for everyday life.
- Identifies as “essential businesses” office supply and other stores that sell products needed for people who work from home.
- Identifies as “additional essential retail businesses” stores that include cell phone stores, lawn and garden retailers, bookstores with educational material, ABC stores, gas stations and convenience stores, pet and feed stores, and retail within healthcare facilities.
Frequently asked questions
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Orange County stay at home order. Additional questions and answers are available on the Orange County website.
Why is a stay at home order in place?
The order is intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals and keep first responders safe. North Carolina is now 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 stay at home order?
Yes. You can still exercise outdoors and perform essential tasks, like shopping for food and other household needs, picking up medication, and taking your trash or recycling to the street for pickup. When out, stay 6 feet apart from others not in your household to protect yourself and others from transmission of the virus.
The order says exercise is allowed. Can I take my kids to a playground or park?
Playground equipment cannot be used, but trails and open spaces at parks can still be used if staying 6 feet away from others not in your household.
Public and private playgrounds are closed for use due to the inability to ensure adequate physical distancing on play equipment and because the equipment is not sanitized. Please heed closure signs and barricades for play equipment.
Greenways and trails at parks remain available for use, with these conditions:
- Adhere to physical distancing requirements of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.
- Organized games that bring people close together on open spaces should not occur.
To promote social distancing:
- The dog park at Gold Park is closed.
- Gates and restrooms at town recreation facilities are locked.
- Town playground equipment has been taped off.
- Swings have been removed from Cates Creek, Gold and Murray parks.
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 you 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 Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail.
- 8 feet wide from downtown to Gold Park.
The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people. Does that mean I can still gather in groups of 10 or fewer people?
You can still gather in small groups if you maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household and if you have an urgent need. Gatherings should be limited to essential needs, such as for business. Staying in touch with others through the phone and online are the best ways now to gather to prevent spread of the virus.
There is a myth that COVID-19 is only dangerous for people 65 or older. The facts are:
- About 12% of all COVID-19 cases are serious enough to require hospitalization, and about 20% of these hospitalizations were among patients 20 to 44 years old.
- Of patients aged 20 to 44 who get COVID-19, between 14 and 21% get sick enough to require hospitalization.
Also, the CDC has noted that spread of the virus may be possible before people show symptoms.
What should I do if I see people congregating or otherwise violating the order?
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.
How will police respond to reports of businesses in violation of the stay at home order?
Police will follow up on any violation reports. If it is not an emergency or critical situation, police will refer it to a town government task force. The task force will make determinations of whether businesses are in compliance with the state and county stay at home orders. If it is not a business that can be open under the orders, police will follow up with enforcement. If the business can be open but is not in compliance with social distancing, the task force will work with the business to get it into compliance. If compliance measures are not taken, police with follow up with enforcement (closing the business).
How will police respond to people who are in violation of the stay at home 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 the order is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and people could be arrested for violating it, but 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 the 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.
Will police be pulling people over to check and see why they are out?
No. Police will be continuing to enforce traffic laws and may pull people over for violations or if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person in engaging in some kind of criminal activity (other than simply violating the order), but they will not be specifically pulling people over just to check why they are out.
If I do get stopped, do I need some kind of documentation to prove I am doing something essential?
No. Officers may ask why you are out, but an explanation is all that is needed.
How does this order affect those in unsafe living situations?
People whose residences are unsafe or become unsafe are urged to travel to a safe alternative location.
Does this order apply to the homeless?
Individuals experiencing homelessness are exempt from this order but strongly encouraged to obtain shelter. Governmental and other agencies are encouraged to make such shelter available as soon as possible to the extent practicable.
Are at-home cleaning services allowed to operate?
At-home cleaning services may continue to operate, provided that cleaners maintain physical distancing.
How are religious institutions affected by this order?
Faith-based organizations are allowed to livestream services provided they abide by the restriction of 10 or fewer people physically gathered while practicing proper social distancing.
Please see the following recent news releases on the Orange County stay at home order. Subscribe to receive news releases directly.
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