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Starting Sept. 4, North Carolina entered Phase 2.5 of easing certain restrictions under Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening plans. Certain businesses can be open, but with restrictions and smaller capacities. Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, amusement parks and arcades will remain closed. Teleworking is still strongly encouraged where possible.

On June 24, Gov. Cooper issued a statewide face mask order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This order states that people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible.  In addition, certain businesses must have employees and customers wear face coverings.

Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, amusement parks, dance halls, and other entertainment facilities must remain closed.

As restaurants, hotels, attractions and other businesses that serve the public reopen in phases, Count On Me NC has training to help companies keep patrons safe from COVID-19. Training is available for owners, front- and back-of-house restaurant staff, sanitation workers and more. Businesses that complete training are provided Count On Me NC branding materials to show customers they have taken the pledge to protect against COVID-19.

Count On Me NC is partnership among the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, N.C. State Cooperative Extension and Visit NC.

If your business is open, workers and clients are advised to practice social distancing. That includes:

  • Staying at least six feet away from others;
  • Wearing a cloth face covering in public settings;
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that get touched often;
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze;
  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that get touched often; and
  • Not shaking hands.

Additionally, employers should:

  • Order employees to stay home when they are sick.
  • Be flexible in sick leave benefits.
  • Consider staggering start and end times of employees, to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.
  • Offer opportunities for teleworking.

Additional information can be found on the NCDHHS site here.

Wake County is partnering with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake County Economic Development to share resources with all businesses impacted by closures and service restrictions. You can visit their COVID-19 resource page for more information.

Capital Area Workforce Development can support businesses and impacted workers facing layoffs, closures and other sensitive business actions.  These rapid response services are customized and offered virtually. Contact Kimberly Wheeler at 919-856-6046 or kimberly.wheeler@wakegov.com.

People can apply for unemployment on the N.C. Department of Commerce’s website. Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order signed on March 17, unemployment benefits will be easier to access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Sept. 4, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living centers may allow for outdoor visitations. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • Not having a current outbreak;
  • Having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19; and
  • Having adequate personal protective equipment.

Details are outlined in N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen’s Secretarial Order, which remains in effect through Sept. 22.

Starting on Friday, May 22, Wake County restaurants can reopen dining rooms but at limited capacity.

People are required to wear Face Coverings in the following settings, whether they are inside or outside:

  • Retail businesses
  • Restaurants (including customers when not seated at their tables)
  • Personal care, grooming and tattoo businesses
  • Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps
  • State government agencies
  • Transportation services
  • Meat or poultry processing plants
  • Long term care facilities
  • Health care services
  • Any other facility where social distancing is difficult

The governor’s order does not require face coverings for workers, customers or patrons who:

  • Can’t wear a face covering due to medical or behavioral conditions or disabilities. This includes, but not limited to, trouble breathing, unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance;
  • Are under 11 years of age;
  • Are actively eating or drinking;
  • Exercising;
  • Trying to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired that requires the mouth to be visible;
  • Giving a speech for a broadcast or audience;
  • Working at home or in a vehicle;
  • Temporarily removing the covering to show identification;
  • Would be at risk from wearing a Face Covering at work, as determined by local,
  • state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
  • Face covering impedes their visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
  • Is a child whose parents or guardians cannot place the covering safely on the child’s face.

Citations can be written to businesses and organizations who do not enforce the requirement to wear face coverings.  Owners can rely on their customers’ statements about whether or not they are excepted from the face coverings requirement and will not be cited if they rely on those statements.

Per the CDC, after a positive test, employees who had symptoms can be with others after:

  • 24 hours fever free without the use of medications and
  • Respiratory symptoms have improved (e.g. cough, shortness of breath) and
  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared

If an employee who had no symptoms tested positive, they can be with others after:

  • 10 days have passed since the test and no symptoms developed during that time

Using a symptom-based strategy allows the employee to return to work without 2 negative test results, and eases burden on testing capacity in the community. Additionally, employers should consider not requiring a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work.

Employers should continue following cleaning and disinfecting guidelines provided by the CDC to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible.