Combined Federal, VA and NC Government Resources for COVID-19 - May 2021

Williams Mullen

Virginia Resources Updated: April 23, 2021
North Carolina Resources Updated: April 30, 2021

COVID-19 Key Resource List (Virginia):

Commonwealth of Virginia Official COVID-19 Website

This website is a comprehensive resource that provides information pertaining to official actions, guidance, updates, and information about the novel coronavirus. The Department of Social Services has recently launched a website to streamline access to resources and guidance for citizens.

Recent Updates

During the week of April 19, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam issued two announcements regarding key changes to his next steps in the “Forward Virginia” plan on easing restrictions in the Commonwealth. Every Virginian must continue to practice safety measures that have been proven to keep everyone safe: maintain proper physical distancing, avoid gatherings with individuals outside of your household, practice hand sanitation, and wear masks while indoors and in public.

The key changes in the Fifth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two, which went into effect on April 21, 2021 include:

  • All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbrewers, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms may allow patrons to be seated at the bar for service, provided there is a minimum of six feet between parties.
  • Outdoor races or marathons where physical distancing of runners can be maintained, may include no more than 100 runners per grouping.
  • Individuals may gather in the following educational settings:
    • Instructional setting that includes, any assemblage of students, teachers, and administrators or other school staff for the purposes of educational instructions and conducting activities that are related to educational instructions. Provided they adhere to guidelines set by the relevant governing body.
    • School performances where the performers and participants are students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff. School performance must follow the guidelines found here.

The following measures in the Sixth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two will go into effect on May 15, 2021:

  • All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 100 individuals indoors and 250 individuals outdoors are prohibited.
  • Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people. Outdoor venues will be allowed to operate at 50 percent, with no specific cap on the number of individuals.
  • Indoor recreational sporting events will be allowed to have up to 250 spectators or exceed the lesser of 50 percent of the occupancy capacity for the venue. Outdoor recreational sporting events will be allowed to have the lesser of $1,000 spectators per field or 50 percent of the occupancy capacity of the venue.
  • All restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight and dining rooms will no longer be required to close between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
  • Here is a link to the Governor’s Forward Virginia guidelines for all business sectors on best practices.

Here is a link to all of the Governor’s Executive Orders and Directives.

If you have business or industry specific questions, please feel free to reach out to our Government Relations team.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (Virginia):

Virginia Employment Commission http://www.vec.virginia.gov/

  • Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period for benefit payments.
  • Information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for businesses and benefits for workers previously not covered by traditional unemployment insurance.
  • Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if their employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. If a worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from his or her employer, he or she may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In addition, a worker may be eligible for unemployment benefits if he or she must stay home to care for an ill family member and is not receiving paid family medical leave from his or her employer.
  • Virginia Employment Commission will give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

Department of Health: www.vdh.virginia.gov

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 information.
  • Share the Facts about COVID-19 resource.
  • A daily update of the number of Virginians tested and the number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Department of Medical Assistance Services (Medicaid): www.dmas.virginia.gov

  • Eliminating all co-payments for services covered by Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), including COVID-19-related treatment as well as other medical care.
  • Ensuring current Medicaid recipients do not inadvertently lose coverage due to lapses in paperwork or a change in circumstances.
  • Permitting Medicaid recipients to obtain a 90-day supply of many routine prescriptions, an increase from the 30-day supply under previous rules.
  • Waiving pre-approval requirements for many critical medical services and enacting automatic extensions for approvals that already are in place.
  • Expanding access to telehealth services, including allowing Medicaid reimbursement for providers who use telehealth with patients in the home.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/covid-19/

  • Resources for Virginia businesses impacted by COVID-19 including federal loan and tax relief programs for small and large businesses.
  • State Agencies resources for businesses.
  • The ReBuild Virginia grant fund is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity and provides support to small business and non-profits who were impacted by COVD-19. Funds can be used to meet financial obligations and operating expenses as well as offset additional costs of operating as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Additional information and the application can be fund here.

COVID-19 KEY RESOURCE LIST (North Carolina):

North Carolina Official COVID-19 Website

This website is a comprehensive resource concerning North Carolina’s response to COVID-19.

State Regulation

Over the past year, Governor Roy Cooper has issued a series of executive orders that include public health mandates and restrictions on various activities. Most recently, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 209 and Executive Order 210 Executive Order 209 further eases COVID-19 restrictions in place in NC by increasing indoor and outdoor mass gathering limits to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors and lifting the outdoor mask mandate. However, masks are still required indoors. Larger venues, auditoriums, amphitheaters, and arenas can operate at 50% capacity. However, a higher capacity will be allowed if the venue receives pre-approval from the NC Department of Health and Human Services. This provision applies to indoor facilities with seating capacity greater than five thousand and outdoor facilities with seating capacity greater than one thousand.

Executive Order 209 goes into effect on Friday, April 30th, and runs through June 1, 2021.

Executive Order 210 extends through June 1st a previous order that allows the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages. A link to Governor’s Office’s guidance document on Executive Order 209 can be found here.

Current capacity limits, implemented by Executive Order 204 and extended in Executive Order 209 are as follows:

Businesses that can operate up to 100% occupancy with safety protocols:

  • Museums and aquariums
  • Retails businesses
  • Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses

Businesses that can operate at 75% indoors and 100% outdoors with safety protocols:

  • Restaurants
  • Breweries, wineries, and distilleries
  • Amusement parks
  • Fitness and physical activity facilities (e.g., gyms)
  • Pools

Businesses that can operate at 50% with safety protocols:

  • Bars and night clubs
  • Meeting, reception, and conference spaces
  • Sports arenas and fields (professional, collegiate, and amateur)
  • Auditoriums, arenas, and other live performance venues
  • Movie theaters*
  • Gaming facilities*

*Movie theaters and gaming facilities may operate at 75% capacity outdoors.

Requirement to Wear Face Coverings

The definition of a face covering means “a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears and fits snugly against the side of a person’s face.”

Where Masks are Required

In general, face coverings are required indoors if anyone else is in that space who is not a member of the same household.

The face covering requirement is not appliable to workers, customers, or patrons who:

  • Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability
  • Are under five years of age
  • Are actively drinking or eating
  • Are trying to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired
  • Are giving a speech for a broadcast or other audience
  • Are working from home or in a personal vehicle
  • Are removing their face covering to secure government or medical services for identification purposes
  • Would be at risk from wearing a face mask at work, as deemed by government regulations or workplace safety guidelines
  • Have determined that their face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle
  • Are children whose parent or guardian has been unable to place a face covering on the child’s face safely

Businesses may offer curbside pickup, provide home delivery, or any other reasonable measure to deliver goods to customers who claim that a face covering exemption applies to them.

Face coverings are also required while exercising if an individual is indoors and not within their own home.

  • However, individuals are not required to wear a face covering while exercising if:
  • One of the exceptions stated above applies.
  • They have symptoms while strenuously exercising such as trouble breathing, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • They are wearing equipment like a mouthguard or helmet and are having trouble breathing.
  • They are doing any activity in which the face covering could become entangled and a choking hazard or impair vision in high risk activities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, or tumbling.
  • They are doing activities that may cause the face covering to become wet, like when swimming or other activities in a pool, lake, water attraction, or similar body of water.

All teachers, staff and visitors, along with children five years or older, are required to wear a mask at public schools at all times indoors, unless an exception applies.

Enforcement of Face Covering Requirements

Law enforcement officers may cite individuals who fail to wear face coverings as required. Law enforcement officers may cite a business or organization that fails to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings.

If a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker or guest because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker or guest enters the premises and refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.

Employers are required to make a good faith effort to provide face coverings to employees.

Retail Requirements

The capacity limit for retailers is the lesser of the following:

  • 100% of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four guests for every thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers).
  • The number of people in the store so that everyone can stay six feet apart.

Other requirements include:

  • All workers must wear face coverings. Retailers must have all guests wear face coverings when they are inside the establishment.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at deli counters and near high-demand products.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Local governments are preempted from regulating maximum capacity of retail operations.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidance document for Retail Businesses can be found here.

Restaurants

Restaurants are defined to include, but are not limited to, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food courts, and food kiosks. The definition also includes locations within other businesses or facilities, including, but not limited to, airports, shopping centers, educational institutions, and private or members-only clubs where food and beverages are permitted to be consumed on-premises.

Restaurants are allowed to operate subject to capacity restrictions that limit capacity to the lesser of the following:

  • Indoor Dining Areas:
    • 75% of stated fire capacity. For spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than eighteen customers for every one thousand square feet of the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests, rounded up.
    • The number of people in the store so that everyone can stay six feet apart.
  • Outdoor Dining Areas:
    • 100% of stated fire capacity. For spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four customers for every one thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to Guests, rounded up.
    • The number of people in the store so that everyone can stay six feet apart.

The other requirements that apply are as follows:

  • Restaurants must have all workers wear face coverings.
  • All guests must wear face coverings (including at their table) when they are not actively drinking or eating.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., dining tables, booths, counters, payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders, and reusable menus) between each use.
  • Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for wait staff and food service staff throughout the shift and upon reporting to work. Hand washing must at least meet the requirements specified in the North Carolina Food Code Manual.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as a cash register or place where customers wait to be seated at their table.

Patrons do not need to be family members to sit at the same table and do not need to stay six feet apart. Nor are wait staff required to stay six feet away from customers.

The business immunity provision included in recently enacted COVID-19 legislation applies to restaurants.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Restaurants can be found here.

Bars, Night Spots and Arenas

“Bars,” defined as businesses which are not eating establishments or restaurants and that are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption, along with lounges (such as cigar bars and hookah lounges), venues for live performances, and adult entertainment facilities, can operate subject to applicable capacity restrictions. This category includes auditoriums, amphitheaters, arenas, music halls, night clubs, dance halls and other venues for live performances.

These facilities must limit customers indoor and outdoor seating areas to the lesser of the following:

  • 50% of the stated fire capacity for each indoor and outdoor space. For rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, the limit on customers is twelve per one thousand (1000) square feet, rounded up.
  • The number of customers in the location so that everyone can stay six feet apart.

In addition, the following apply:

  • The facility must arrange the space so that guests sitting at a counter or table are not within six feet of each other. And each group of guests sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six feet. Entertainers also must stay at least six feet away from any guest.

All guests must be seated except to leave, use amenities, visit the restroom or obtain food or drink.

The following requirements also apply:

  • The restrictions for restaurants apply to any food or beverage service.
  • All employees and guests must wear face coverings.
  • All guests must wear masks when they are not actively drinking or eating.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for guests.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and at other areas throughout the premises as needed. Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for workers and guests.
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high guest density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between use.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Follow any NC Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Bars and Lounges can be found here.

Mixed Drinks To Go

On December 21st, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 183 which authorizes the Chair of the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to allow the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages. Permitted sellers allowed to serve mixed beverages to-go or via delivery include restaurants, hotels, private clubs, private bars, and holders of distillery permits. This order was extended by Executive Order 210 and now is effective until June 1st.

As defined under NC General Statute 18B-101(10), a "mixed beverage" means either of the following:

  • A drink composed in whole or in part of spirituous liquor and served in a quantity less than the quantity contained in a closed package.
  • A premixed cocktail served from a closed package containing only one serving.

Highlights:

  • Individuals over the age of 21 may order one mixed beverage drink per person.
  • The mixed beverage must be in a sealed container and must be kept in the passenger area of a motor vehicle at all times during transport.
  • Mixed beverages shall not be larger than the permitted seller’s standard size of a mixed beverage drink for on-premises consumption.
  • Third-party deliverers may deliver mixed beverages and must have a signed contract with the permitted seller.
  • Deliverers may not deliver after the permitted seller ceases alcoholic beverage sales.
  • Contactless delivery is permissible, but only where the delivering person can verify the age and sobriety of each individual receiving the mixed beverage.
  • No delivery is permitted to higher education residence halls, to a place where sales are not approved by alcohol vote, or where possession of fortified wine and spirituous liquor is otherwise prohibited.
  • Labeling of the mixed beverages is required.
  • Mini bottles are not permitted.

Movie Theaters, Meeting Spaces and Entertainment Facilities

Various entertainment businesses and meeting venues are allowed to open, including the following:

  • Movie theaters.
  • Private rooms or other private meeting spaces in a hotel, conference center, meeting hall, or reception venue.
  • Bingo parlors, including bingo sites operated by charitable organizations.
  • Facilities where the purpose is to engage in games of cards, such as bridge.
  • Gaming and business establishments which allow gaming activities (e.g., video games, arcade games, pinball machines or other computer, electronic or mechanical devices played for amusement).

Guests must be in seats except to enter, leave, visit the restroom, or obtain food or drink. Each group of guests must be seated so that they are spaced out by six feet in all directions from other groups of guests. The capacity limit is the lesser of the following:

Capacity Limits:

  • Indoor Areas.
    • 75% of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than eighteen guests for every one thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to guests). This limit applies separately to each room within a building.
  • Outdoor Areas.
    • 100% of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity; no more than eighteen guests for every one thousand square feet).

In addition, the following apply:

  • The facility must limit the number of guests in the space so that groups can stay six feet apart.
  • The facility must arrange the space so that guests sitting at a counter or table are not within six feet of each other. And each group of guests sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six feet. Entertainers also must stay at least six feet away from any guest.

The following requirements also apply:

  • Follow the restrictions applicable to restaurants for any food or beverage service.
  • All workers and guests must wear face coverings when in the facility.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for guests.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and at other areas throughout the premises as needed. Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for workers and guests.
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high guest density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between use.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

The NC DHHS guidance document for Movie Theaters and Indoor Gaming can be found here.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Meeting Rooms and Event Spaces can be found here.

Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses

Personal care and grooming businesses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Barber Shops
  • Beauty Salons (including but not limited to waxing and hair removal centers)
  • Hair Salons
  • Nail Salons/Manicure/Pedicure Providers
  • Tattoo Parlors
  • Tanning Salons
  • Massage Therapists (except that massage therapists may provide medical massage therapy services upon the specific referral of a medical or naturopathic healthcare provider)

These businesses can open subject to the capacity limits defined as the lesser of the following:

  • 100% of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four customers for every one thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests).
  • The number of people in the store so that patrons can stay six feet apart.

In addition, the following apply to these business operations:

  • Arrange seating so that groups of customers are separated from one another by six feet.
  • Workers shall wear face coverings at all times.
  • All guests must wear face coverings when they are inside the establishment, unless they are receiving a facial treatment, shave, or other services on a part of the head which the face covering covers or by which the face covering is secured.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Ensure that all equipment that comes into direct personal contact with customers and all furniture in service areas (such as chairs, capes, and the shampooing area in a barber shop or salon) are completely cleaned and disinfected between each customer.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at cash registers and waiting areas.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Salons, Massage, and Personal Care Businesses can be found here.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Tattoo Businesses can be found here.

Fitness and Competitive Physical Activity Facilities

The following types of establishments are defined as Fitness and Competitive Physical Activity Facilities:

  • Exercise facilities (e.g., yoga studios, dance studios, ballrooms for dancing, martial arts facilities, gymnastics, indoor trampoline and rock-climbing facilities)
  • Gyms
  • Fitness or competitive facilities, including but not limited to basketball courts, baseball fields, volleyball courts, racquetball courts, squash courts, hockey rinks, soccer fields, sports teams and leagues, professional or amateur wrestling, and tennis courts (with spectators, if any, limited as stated in Section 9 of this Executive Order)
  • Health clubs and fitness centers
  • Boxing clubs
  • Skating rinks
  • Bowling alleys
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Golf ball hitting bays
  • Mini-golf courses
  • Go-cart tracks, speedways, and raceways (with spectators limited as provided by the mass gathering restrictions)
  • Paintball, laser tag, and similar fields and arenas

These facilities must comply with the following requirements:

  • Limit any customers in indoor areas to the lesser of the following:
    • Seventy-five percent of the stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than eighteen customers for every one thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests).
    • The number of customers in any given room of the facility so that everyone can stay six feet apart.
  • In outdoor areas, limit customers to the lesser of the following:
    • One hundred percent of the stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four guests for every one thousand square feet).
    • Limit the number of customers in outdoor spaces so that everyone can stay six feet apart.
  • All workers and guests must wear face coverings when they are inside, regardless of whether they are exercising (subject to the exceptions noted above in the “Requirement to Wear Face Coverings” section).
  • For activities involving people spread out among fixed equipment or lanes, tape off or move the equipment, or restrict access to lanes, so that the people conducting the exercise activity are at least six feet apart.
  • For people waiting to take their tum in the activity, space out any seating so that people can be socially distanced and stay, six feet apart from each other.
  • For group classes or group activities, ensure that all people are spaced at least six feet apart. Instructors may come within six feet of students for brief periods of time (less than 15 minutes).
  • Promote frequent use of hand washing and hand sanitizer for workers and customers. Require workers to wash hands immediately upon reporting to work, after contact with customers, after performing cleaning and disinfecting activities, and frequently throughout the day.
  • Disinfect all shared equipment between users with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-Co V-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Allow the disinfectant to sit for the adequate amount of time stated by the manufacturer. If customers are to clean equipment, the establishment must provide instructions on how to properly disinfect equipment and on the adequate amount of time that the disinfectant must sit to be effective.
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high-population-density times.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Fitness Centers and Gyms can be found here.

Large Venues

Indoor facilities with seating capacity greater than 5,000 and outdoor facilities with seating capacity greater than 10,000 are subject to the capacity limits for bars, night spots and arenas set out above (i.e., these facilities must limit capacity for indoor and outdoor seating areas to the lesser of 50% capacity, or twelve customers per one thousand square feet for rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, or the number of customers in the location so that everyone can stay six feet apart). These venues must also take additional measures:

  • The facility operator must direct or monitor the flow of guests through common spaces to maintain social distancing and establish a guest flow plan that limits people massing together.
  • All events must be ticketed with assigned seating and the operator must ensure that each group of guests attending the event is actually separated by six feet from each guest in each other group.
  • The operator must have staff periodically monitor crowds to ensure that guests do not take seats other than their assigned seats.

A "group" of spectators means a set of friends or family members who bought tickets together and came into the event venue together.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Large Outdoor and Indoor Venues can be found here.

Amusement Parks

For outdoor spaces, these facilities must limit guests to 100% of the stated fire capacity. For rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, the limit on guests is twenty-four per one thousand square feet, rounded up. For indoor spaces, the maximum capacity is 75% of the stated fire capacity for each building, room, or other indoor space. This limit applies separately to each room within a building. For rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, the limit on guests is eighteen per one thousand square feet, rounded up.

The amusement park operator must limit the number of guests within each ride or vehicle to either:

  • Have all the guests within a vehicle or ride be people who came into the ride loading area together as part of the same group of friends or family; or
  • Ensure six feet of social distancing between each group of friends or family within the vehicle or ride.

The following requirements also apply:

  • All employees and guests must wear face coverings.
  • Spread out waiting lines for rides, amusements, and other areas where people may congregate or wait, with each group separated by six feet.
  • Mark six feet of spacing along the line and in waiting areas for rides and amusements and other areas where people may congregate or wait.
  • Establish a guest flow plan that limits people massing together throughout the park and when they are entering or exiting the park.
  • Follow the restrictions applicable to restaurants for any food or beverage service and those applicable to retail establishments for any retail operations.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and at other areas throughout the premises as needed. Promote frequent use of handwashing and hand sanitizer for workers and guests.
  • Disinfect shared objects and surfaces (such as game surfaces, safety bars, or harnesses) between uses.
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high guest density times.
  • Post the maximum occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection on high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

The NC DHHS guidance document for Amusement Parks can be found here.

Museums and Aquariums

Museums and aquariums may open subject to the following requirements:

  • Limit the number of customers in the museum or aquarium to 100% of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four customers for every one thousand square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests), and ensure people are able to social distance and remain 6 feet away from groups other than those in their households. Restaurants located within museums and aquariums are subject to the maximum occupancy and other requirements on restaurants.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace.
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers.
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-Co V-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
  • Employees must wear face coverings when they are inside.
  • Guests must wear face coverings.

The NC DHHS guidance document for Museums and Aquariums can be found here.

Mass Gathering Ban

Mass gatherings are still prohibited and are defined as an event or convening that brings together more than one hundred people indoors or more than two hundred people outdoors at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs, and festivals. However, the mass gathering limit does not apply to the various businesses and facilities that are subject to specific capacity limits, such as retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, pools, childcare, day camps, overnight camps, auditoriums, arenas, reception venues, conference centers, educational institutions or government operations. The prohibition on mass gatherings does not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, or for receiving governmental services. Nor are normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls, and shopping centers affected. It also does not apply to the exercise of First Amendment rights.

Eviction Moratorium

Executive Order 206 extends the moratorium on evictions (Executive Order 171) until June 30, 2021. In general, this order is the state equivalent to the CDC order which stops evictions for nonpayment of rent if the tenant qualifies and gives his or her landlord a signed declaration form attesting that they qualify. A tenant qualifies if he or she meets all of the following:

  • Have used their best efforts to obtain government assistance for housing.
  • Are unable to pay their full rent due to a substantial loss in income.
  • Are making their best efforts to make timely partial payments of rent.
  • Would become homeless or have to move into a shared living space if evicted.
  • Meet one of the following financial requirements:
    • An individual who earns $99,000 or less, or joint filers who earn $198,000 or less;
    • An individual who received a stimulus check, or
    • An individual who was not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019.

Applicants eligible for the North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (“HOPE”) Program are also specifically protected from eviction under the order.

If an eviction action is filed, landlords are required to provide tenants with a blank copy of the CDC declaration form.

A link to the Governor’s Office updated guidance document for Executive Order 191 can be found here.

Immunity Provisions

Section 4.14 of SB 704 provides immunity to essential businesses with respect to claims from a customer or employee for any injuries or death alleged to have been caused as a result of the customer or employee contracting COVID-19 while doing business with or while employed by the essential business, so long as there was no act or omission of the essential business constituting gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm.

And as referenced above, this provision is applied to restaurants (even though they originally were not open as “essential businesses”).

Section 3D.7.(a) of SB 704 includes an immunity provision for health care providers that is almost identical to the essential business immunity provision.

Later in the legislative session, HB 118 was approved by the General Assembly. This legislation provides immunity for individuals, governmental entities, corporations, nonprofit corporations and other legal entities (collectively “person”) from legal claims alleging that the person’s act or omission resulted in a third party’s contraction of COVID-19. Any act or omission that constitutes gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing is not covered. The immunity applies to claims arising on or after July 2nd and continues in effect as to claims arising no later than 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116 (the executive order issued by the Governor declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19).

The immunity provision in this legislation has a few attributes of note that are not present in the immunity provision included in SB 704. First, it applies to a universe of entities beyond just essential businesses. Second, it is not limited to claims from customers or employees. And, lastly, it is effective for a longer period of time (claims arising no later than 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116 vs the expiration or rescission of Executive Order 116).

Miscellaneous

HB 118 requires businesses, non-profits and government offices to provide reasonable notice at each premises of the actions taken to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to individuals present on the premises.

EO 181, and the previous orders, provides that it does not create a private right of action by any party against the “State of North Carolina, its agencies, departments, political subdivisions, or other entities, or any officers, employees, or agents thereof, or any emergency management worker (as defined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-l 9.60) or any other person.”

Local Government Regulation

Governor Cooper and his administration have developed a COVID-19 County Alert System (System). The System categorizes all 100 counties into three tiers using criteria that measure the level of viral spread. The Governor has also announced recommended actions for public officials, individuals, businesses and community organizations to decrease the spread of the virus that are specific to the tiers.

The three tiers of counties are as follows:

  • Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  • Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  • Red: Critical Community Spread

The System uses a combination of three metrics: case rate, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospital impact within the county. A county is classified in the red or orange tier if the case rate surpasses the threshold for the respective tier and either the threshold for the percent of positive tests or the hospital impact threshold for that tier is also reached.

As of April 29th, none of North Carolina’s 100 counties red tier counties. There are 30 orange tier counties, 56 yellow counties, 14 light yellow counties, and no green counties. DHHS publishes an updated System report the 2nd week of every month.

A document outlining the System, along with the initial classifications, can be found here.

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen issued a Secretarial Directive on January 6th instructing North Carolinians to stay at home except for essential activities and avoid any gatherings with individuals other than those with whom they live. A link to the directive, can be found here.

On October 20th, Secretary Cohen and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Secretary Eric Hooks sent a letter to elected officials in 36 counties asking that they consider taking local actions to improve compliance with the Governor’s executive orders. Because enforcement of the Governor’s previous orders was criminal, law enforcement may have been reluctant to act. Therefore, DHHS and DPS suggested local civil enforcement. Some of the specific ideas mentioned in the letter are as follows:

  • Imposing fines for businesses that do not enforce the mask requirements.
  • Establishing lower mass gathering limits.
  • Limiting the sale of alcohol.
  • Closing high risk venues such as bars and night spots.
  • Limiting restaurant service.

The letter was sent to counties that have one or more of the following metrics:

  • 300 or more new cases in the last 14 days and the county has been identified by the White House Task Force as a county of concern.
  • The rate of cases is greater than 50 cases per 10,000 people.
  • The county is one of the three most populous in the state.

The following counties received the letter from DHHS and DPS: Alamance, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chowan, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Graham, Greene, Guilford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Scotland, Union, Wake, Watauga and Wayne.

A link to the letter can be found here.

A link to the DHHS’ press release can be found here.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (North Carolina):

NC Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/

  • COVID-19 case count.
  • Numbers to call or text for COVID-19 assistance.
  • COVID-19 symptoms and health tips.
  • Past COVID-19 briefings.
  • COVID-19 overview page can be found here.
  • Information on the testing and treatment of COVID-19 can be found here.

NC Department of Commerce: https://www.nccommerce.com/

  • North Carolina Employment Security Division is publishing instructions and guidance to help employers and employees understand the new changes to the state’s unemployment system related to COVID-19, which can be found here.
  • The changes to the state’s unemployment system were ordered by Governor Cooper on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in his Executive Order 118.
  • The Department of Commerce recommends the fastest and most efficient way to file for assistance is online here.

NC Judicial Branch: https://www.nccourts.gov/

  • Effective April 2nd, court proceedings can be conducted by remote audio and video transmission and service of court documents can be effected by email.
  • Also effective April 2nd, the deadline for payment of most fines and fees is extended by 90 days, and clerks are not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.
  • To find local announcements, changes, and administrative orders by county, please see the COVID-19 Updates page.

NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv

  • Some NC DMV drivers license offices closed starting Wednesday, March 18.
  • See if an office is closed here.
  • Find what services can be conducted online here.

NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services: http://www.ncagr.gov/

  • Information on food safety can be found here.
  • FAQ’s about COVID-19 and agriculture, essential businesses and critical infrastructure, and facility updates can be found here.

Department of Insurance https://www.ncdoi.gov/

  • Guidance for insurers regarding coverage and cost sharing requirements related to COVID-19 can be found here.

Golden LEAF Foundation - Rapid Recovery Loan Program https://ncrapidrecovery.org/

  • Funding will provide loans to help small businesses suffering economic losses related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Businesses are eligible for bridge loans of up to $50,000 with six months of no interest and no payments. These loans are intended to support businesses until they are able to secure an SBA loan or other long-term assistance.
  • If not repaid in six months, the loans will automatically convert to a term loan.
  • Applicants must be small businesses affected by COVID-19 and have at least one employee.
  • Nonprofit organizations are not currently eligible.

COVID-19 Additional Resources (Federal):

Department of Homeland Security:

FDIC and Other Bank/Lending Regulators:

  • All federal agencies that regulate all U.S. financial institutions issued a written statement on Sunday, March 22, 2020: https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2020/fil20022.html
  • In it, these agencies provided the following sweeping guidance to all financial institutions nationwide:
    • The agencies encourage financial institutions to work prudently with borrowers who are or may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations because of the effects of COVID-19.
    • The agencies view loan modification programs as positive actions that can mitigate adverse effects on borrowers due to COVID-19.
    • The agencies will not criticize institutions for working with borrowers and will not direct supervised institutions to automatically categorize all COVID-19 related loan modifications as troubled debt restructurings (TDRs).
    • Citing bank-related accounting methodology from both GAAP and FASB perspectives, the agencies explain that short-term modifications made on a good faith basis in response to COVID-19 to borrowers who were current prior to any relief will not automatically be characterized as TDRs. This has the historic impact of freeing up banks to temporarily defer monthly payments or extend maturity dates with the fear of hobbling a banks’ loan portfolio or requiring additional capital reserves with TDR designations.
    • Note that the agencies provide an example of “short term modifications” as being six-month deferrals.
    • Note also the agencies suggest that such modifications should be available only to borrowers who are “current” which they defined as “less than 30 days past due” before the implementation of a modification.

US Small Business Administration:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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