With 100 cases of coronavirus and counting, Wake County issued a stay-at-home order starting Friday at 5:00 p.m., closing all non-essential businesses and banning all gatherings outside of immediate family members. 

The order is in place until April 17.

Similar orders have been announced in Durham and Orange Counties. The decision was made based on data on the spread of the virus and the health care system’s capacity to handle those experiencing severe symptoms, Wake County Board of Commissioners chairman Greg Ford said in a Thursday press conference.

“The information is clear, so we are all united across the county. This is necessary,” Ford said. “The damage this virus is doing to us and our economy will be minimized by taking action today.”

Statewide, over 600 people have been infected with the highly contagious virus, and three have died, including a Raleigh municipal worker. The number of positive cases doubles in the state about every two days, making containment critical.

The order allows residents to leave the home for groceries, exercise at local parks and greenways, and care for family members. It bans all gatherings of any size outside of family members. 

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office will be enforcing the mandate. Sheriff Gerald Baker said enforcement will not be “aggressive,” but citations will be issued if necessary. 

“We’re going to try and do it without any problems and again to make sure that no one is out that should not be out,” Baker said. 

Following the mandate will mean “very literally the difference between life and death for some of our residents,” Ford said. 

“This virus plays on our strengths, our social nature, and our connectedness,” Ford said. “Isolating ourselves is not in our nature but it’s exactly what we need to do to suppress this virus in our community today.”

According to the order, here’s what you can and can’t do.

What is Not Allowed under the Proclamation:

  • All non-essential facilities, services, operations, and retail businesses must close.
  • Gatherings of any size are prohibited.
  • People of any age with medical conditions should not leave their homes except to get medical care.
  • Social distancing must be practiced while in public.
  • Public transportation should only be used if necessary. If public transport is a person’s primary way to get around, they should abide by social distancing best practices, standing and sitting at least six feet apart and using sanitizing products.

What is Allowed under the Proclamation:

  • Shopping for food at the grocery store or picking up take-out meals from a local restaurant 
  • Operating businesses that provide critical services like hospitals, government agencies, and financial institutions 
  • Caring for a family member or pet in another household 
  • Providing childcare for parents who have to go to work at jobs that are considered essential 
  • Utilizing plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who help maintain the safety and sanitation of residences 
  • Visiting a local park, greenway or nature preserve while practicing social distancing

You can read the full proclamation here. 

This is a developing story.

Contact Raleigh editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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