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Cooper Mandates Stricter Distancing Rules For Retail

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, 3/10/2020 in response to more confirmed cases of the coronavirus in North Carolina.
Jay Price

Governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order mandating new social distancing measures at retail stores. 

The orderrequires businesses limit the number of people inside at one time to no more than 20% of the capacity allowed by the fire code.

It also encourages business owners to provide hand sanitizer to their customers, create special shopping hours for older adults, and install shields at check-out counters.

"There are still essential reasons to leave the house − like for groceries or medicine − and we want to ensure that retail stores are as safe as possible for everyone so that no one is afraid to go out for basic necessities," Cooper said.

Many stores have already put similar measures in place, but the executive order makes violations class 2 misdemeanors. The policies for retailers take effect 5 p.m. Monday.

In addition, the order sets public health and safety requirements for nursing homes including:

  • Canceling communal activities, including group meals
  • Taking the temperature of employees and essential personnel when they enter the facility
  • Requiring specific personal protective equipment in the facility
  • Requiring close monitoring of residents for COVID-19 health indicators like body temperature

Finally, the order streamlines the unemployment insurance claim filing system. In North Carolina, there have already been nearly 500,000 people to file claims, almost 90% of which are due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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