Second Phase of Easing COVID-19 Restrictions Begins May 22
In collaboration with the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, the Orange County Board of Commissioners has amended the county’s state of emergency declaration to adopt the state's Phase 2 easing of COVID-19 restrictions with a few conditions. The modified regulations will go into effect at 5 p.m. today, May 22.
“As we move forward to this next phase, with a handful of additional local requirements, we are counting on our community to use their best judgment and take the utmost care in taking care of each other by continuing best practices for preventing the spread of the virus,” Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver said.
“We all love Hillsborough and all its parts — the land, the arts, the local businesses, and the people. For all those elements to make it through this public health crisis, we need to treat this phase with caution and wisdom to avoid having to backtrack," she said. "Wear your cloth face coverings, Wash your hands frequently, and Wait at least six feet apart if you choose to go out. Safer at home is still the name of the game, especially for vulnerable populations.”
The state executive order allows restaurants to open at reduced capacity and allows personal care, grooming, tattoo shops, and swimming pools to open with distancing and cleaning requirements.
The amended Orange County emergency declaration also:
- Requires restaurant, personal care, grooming, tattoo and retail employees and staff to wear a face covering while on duty. This requirement does not apply to people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering, people who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition, and people who are under 12 years of age.
- Recommends that all businesses require customers to wear a face covering while inside the business. It is not recommended that children under the age of 2 wear a face covering.
- Limits customers at restaurant tables to no more than six people (the state order allows up to 10). However, more than six people may sit at the same table if they are members of the same household.
- Clarifies that meetings of public bodies (such as elected or appointed boards, commissions or councils) are limited to no more than 10 people indoors and that worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings, and funerals are exempt from this “mass gathering” restriction.
- Continues to apply mandatory mitigation measures to all long-term care facilities.
“A crowd is still going to be a dangerous thing until we are further along in defeating this virus. It’s something we need to continue to avoid,” Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said. “The best defense against this virus, until there is a vaccine, is physical distance from other people. We know those who are infected do not always show symptoms so we must all be vigilant.”
Face coverings in public
The state’s executive order strongly recommends that people wear a face covering on the nose and mouth when they leave home and may be within 6 feet of other people who are not household members. This includes indoor, community, public and business settings. These coverings function to protect other people more than the wearer. Face coverings should also be worn outdoors when it is not possible to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.
Some populations experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and profiling if wearing face coverings in public spaces. If any people are the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the protective nose and mouth covering guidance, or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to local law enforcement agencies.
The state executive order maintains a limit of 10 people for mass gatherings indoors but exempts worship services, spiritual gatherings, weddings and funerals. The limit on mass gatherings is expanded to 25 for outdoor gatherings. Physical distancing requirements remain in place.
Bars, bowling alleys, movie theaters, gyms, exercise facilities, museums, nightclubs and other locations must remain closed. However, gyms may conduct outdoor activities in groups of 25 or fewer while meeting physical distancing requirements.
The order allows indoor and outdoor swimming pools to open with capacity restrictions and provides guidance for day and overnight summer camps.
The order allows public parks and trails to open. Playgrounds remain closed, including those in public parks. The Town of Hillsborough is working on plans to reopen park facilities. More information is expected to be available next week.
For additional information, see the Statewide COVID-19 Restrictions webpage on the town website.