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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
→ TOP STORY: THE TRIANGLE IS CLOSED.
Yesterday—like I said would happen—Durham Mayor Steve Schewel announced a stay-at-home order for the city, which will go into effect tonight at 6:00 p.m. The Durham County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a special coronavirus-related meeting for Friday, so expect it to enact a stay-at-home-type rule for the unincorporated parts of the county (there aren’t many) then. Wake County signaled that it was going to enact a similar lockdown yesterday, but it backed off; it will probably happen today, with most of the municipalities on board. Orange County will put one in place today, too.
- WHAT THEY DO: Durham’s order is the only one that has actually been published, but the others will probably be similar. Durham’s order mandates that residents stay at home unless they are participating in essential services and activities until April 30, limits the gathering of 10 or more people in any public or private places, and prohibits contact sports and team sports where participants cannot practice social distancing at all times. Most important, it also shuts down all non-essential business operations.
- At least in Durham, “essential” is defined fairly broadly, and there are significant exemptions. The order seems to codify social-distancing expectations already in place more than impose a new set of strictures.
- Here is Durham’s FAQ page.
- WHAT THEY DON’T DO: While the Durham police are enforcing the order, they won’t be arresting or citing anyone. Instead, they’ll be sternly instructing them to go home. Given how many exemptions there are—for media, for caregivers, for people hiking, for people getting groceries—it will likely be hard for the cops to suss out who is participating in “essential” activities and those who are not.
- WHAT THE STATE DID: Not a stay-at-home order—not yet, anyway (again), though every day, it feels more and more inevitable, especially since North Carolina logged its first two COVID-19-related deaths yesterday. At a press conference yesterday, Governor Cooper warned businesses to prepare for more closures and restrictions: “We want people to stay home. Local communities are doing what they think is right, and I understand that. We will be issuing additional orders.”
- RELATED: A day after Cooper asked, President Trump approved a disaster declaration for North Carolina, freeing up additional federal funding for emergency response.
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