Editor’s note: This story was produced through a partnership between the INDY and The 9th Street Journal, which is published by journalism students at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy.
Now that most everyone in Durham is two weeks into staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a question emerges: If you need something besides groceries and gas, what’s still open?
There has been some confusion about stay-at-home orders. One Reddit user, under the name fireberri, asked, “Sorry if this is a dumb question. With this new order, does this affect all of Durham county, or just the jurisdiction of the City of Durham?”
The first order, which was citywide, went into effect March 26. The second was Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide order; it started on March 30. The third was the countywide order, announced last week by Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs. It went into effect March 29.
In an effort to quell confusion and prevent the coronavirus from spreading, Schewel and Jacobs announced Friday afternoon that they combined and amended their orders into a stricter one. It goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m.
The orders outline rules for what businesses are deemed “essential” and allowed to stay open to the public, what type of travel is permitted and reasons residents can leave their homes. It also states that the Durham Police Department and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office will enforce these rules.
Here is what you need to know about “essential” businesses in Durham County. Before you go, look online or call ahead — though many of these types of places are allowed to remain open, some have changed hours or closed temporarily.
No restaurants are open for dine-in service, but you can still get takeout or drive-thru. Some are offering delivery, either through their own employees or through services like UberEats, Postmates and Doordash. Coffee shops are closed, but many are offering limited walk-up menus and encouraging customers to order bags of coffee online.
Grocery stores, food banks and ABC Liquor stores remain open. Farmers markets can only do pickup and delivery.
Businesses allowed to stay open must comply with social distancing precautions. For instance, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods only allow a certain number of customers in their stores at a time, and enforce social distancing when customers are waiting to check out. The chain grocery stores have reserved hours for seniors and other high-risk shoppers.
Almost all medical facilities are open, including pharmacies, hospitals, dental and eye care clinics, urgent care facilities and physical therapy practices. However, the county is requiring them to offer as many of their services online as possible.
Pet food suppliers and veterinary offices are open. Some vet offices are not letting owners in, instead providing curbside drop-off and pickup of animals.
In order to allow residents to get to where they need to be, businesses needed for transportation — gas stations, car dealers, bike shops, and auto repair shops — are still open. Construction can still continue, as well, which is why you might see road work happening.
Parks and Gyms
Though all gyms, yoga studios, and other workout facilities are closed, you can still get out of the house for exercise. Anyone can walk, bike, hike, or jog through local public parks and trails, including Durham Central Park and Duke Forest. Due to excessive crowds, Eno River State Park, as well as some other state parks, have been temporarily closed. Dog parks in Durham are off-limits. All sports with shared equipment are banned, including tennis.
For at-home workouts, check with your local gyms and studios; many are doing online video classes during the pandemic.
Other stores and services
All stores that remain are required to have social distancing and sanitation practices. Spas, nail and hair salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors are all closed. Laundromats, dry cleaners and laundry services are open. You can still buy home supplies at convenience, warehouse, hardware, and supply stores. As of Friday, businesses providing services in a residential setting must require employees to wear masks covering their mouth and nose.
When it comes to entertainment, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and board games may be your best bet: Malls, movie theaters, bookstores, libraries and amusement parks are closed.
Banks and post offices
You can still send and receive parcels since the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS and the like are operating. You can still visit banks and other financial institutions, but health officials recommend avoiding going if you can get access services online.
The countywide order is expected to remain in place until April 30. In the meantime you can support local businesses forced to shut down by purchasing gift cards to use when they reopen, buying merchandise online or donating to relief funds. Here’s one: the North Carolina Restaurant Workers Relief Fund.
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