On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper announced that he would allow North Carolina’s stay-at-home order to expire on Friday, May 8th at 5:00 PM. At the same time, he issued a new Executive Order 138 that provides new guidance for business operations. The new executive order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses, and in doing so, will allow additional businesses across the state to reopen.
Under the new order, retail businesses are required to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Limit customer occupancy to not more than 50% of stated fire capacity. Retail businesses that do not have a stated fire capacity must limit customer occupancy to twelve (12) customers for every one thousand (1000) square feet of the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers.
- Limit customer occupancy so that customers can stay six ( 6) feet apart, even if this requires reducing occupancy beneath the 50% limit stated above.
- Direct customers to stay at least six ( 6) feet apart from one another and from workers, except at point of sale if applicable.
- Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at deli counters and near high-volume products.
- Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-Co V-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
- Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol); systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizer stations; and provide soap and hand drying materials at sinks.
- Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
- Immediately send symptomatic workers home.
- Have a plan in place for immediately isolating workers from the workplace if symptoms develop.
- Post signage at the main entrances that reminds people to stay six (6) feet apart for social distancing, requests people who are or who have recently been symptomatic not to enter, and notifies customers of the retail business’s reduced capacity.
In addition, retail businesses are encouraged to adhere to following guidelines:
- Direct workers to stay at least six ( 6) feet apart from one another and from customers, to the greatest extent possible.
- Provide designated times for seniors and other high-risk populations to access services.
- Develop and use systems that allow for online, email, or telephone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.
- High-volume retail businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are strongly encouraged to take the following additional measures to reduce transmission:
- Use acrylic or plastic shields at cash registers.
- Clearly mark designated entry and exit points.
- Provide assistance with routing through aisles in the store.
All businesses, retail or otherwise, are also encouraged to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Continue to promote telework and limit non-essential travel whenever possible.
- Promote social distancing by reducing the number of people coming to the office, by providing six (6) feet of distance between desks, and/or by staggering shifts.
- Limit face-to-face meetings to no more than ten ( I0) workers.
- Promote hygiene, including frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer.
- Recommend workers wear cloth face coverings; provide workers with face coverings; and provide information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.
- Make accommodations for workers who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example, by having high-risk workers work in positions that are not public-facing or by allowing teleworking where possible.
- Encourage sick workers to stay home and provide support to do so with a sick leave policy.
- Follow the CDC guidance if a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Provide workers with education about COVID-19 prevention strategies, using methods like videos, webinars, or FAQs.
- Promote information on helplines for workers such as 211 and the Hope4NC Helpline.
While a number of businesses will be permitted to reopen under the new executive order, some will be required to remain closed. Those businesses that must remain closed include bars, personal care businesses (such as barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage therapists), entertainment venues, and gyms. The order also allows restaurants to continue to offer delivery, takeout, and curbside service, but does not allow them to fully reopen for dining at this time.