Virginia Resources Updated: December 11, 2020
North Carolina Resources Updated: November 25, 2020
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.
Williams Mullen COVID-19 Legal Updates
Williams Mullen attorneys continue to serve our clients by assembling a legal resource page with alerts on federal and state actions related to COVID-19. An email sign-up is available so you can have legal alerts and updates sent as soon as they are published.
On Thursday, December 10, 2020, Governor Ralph North announced further actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the Commonwealth. While Virginia’s COVID-19 case count and positivity rate remain relatively low compared to other states, new cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in all areas of the Commonwealth. Thus, the Governor has ordered further, more restrictive, measures to fight the spread of the disease. The following measures will take effect at 12:01am on Monday, December 14:
The new restrictions discussed above are reflected in Executive Order 72 , which incorporated Executive Orders 63 and 67. Here is a link to all of the Governor’s Executive Orders and Directives.
Virginia Employment Commission http://www.vec.virginia.gov/
Department of Labor and Industry https://www.doli.virginia.gov/
Department of Health: www.vdh.virginia.gov
Department of Medical Assistance Services (Medicaid): www.dmas.virginia.gov
Secretary of Commerce and Trade: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/covid-19/
CARES Funding allocated to date
North Carolina Official COVID-19 Website
This website is a comprehensive resource concerning North Carolina’s response to COVID-19.
Williams Mullen attorneys continue to serve our clients and have helped by assembling a legal resource page with alerts on federal and state actions related to COVID-19. An email sign-up is available so you can have legal alerts and updates sent as soon as they are published.
North Carolina Reopening
As background, Governor Roy Cooper’s three phase reopening plan relies on North Carolina’s progress on certain measurable factors. Below are the factors and in parentheses the result needed for each factor for the State to continue to the next phase:
On Monday, November 23rd, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 180, which reduces the number of exceptions to the face covering requirement and includes additional enforcement provisions. The new order takes effect Wednesday, November 24th at 5pm and runs until December 11th.
Executive Order 180 also continues “Phase 3” until December 11th as well. Here are some highlights of Executive Order 180:
A link to the Governor’s Office’s guidance document for Executive Order 180 can be found here.
On Tuesday, November 17th, Governor Cooper announced a new 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 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:
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 November 23rd, of North Carolina’s 100 counties there are 20 red tier counties and 42 orange tier counties. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will publish an updated System report the 2nd week of every month.
A document outlining the System, along with the initial classifications, can be found here.
On Tuesday, November 10th, Governor Cooper extended Phase 3.0 of the state’s reopening plan and reduced the mass gathering limit for indoor spaces from 25 people to ten in preparation of the holidays when the number of indoor gatherings tends to increase. Both changes are included in Executive Order 176. An overview of Phase 3.0, initially embodied in Executive Order 169, is below.
A link to the Governor’s Office’s guidance document for Executive Order 176 can be found here.
On October 20th, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy 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 Phase 3 Order is criminal, law enforcement may be reluctant to act. Therefore, DHHS and DPS are suggesting local civil enforcement. Some of the specific ideas mentioned in the letter are as follows:
The letter was sent to counties that have one or more of the following metrics:
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.
Pursuant to Executive Order 169 North Carolina moved into Phase 3.0 on Friday, October 2nd. The significant modifications from Phase 2.5 are as follows:
Highlights of Phase 3.0:
The capacity limit for retailers is the lesser of the following:
Other requirements include:
The Phase 1 requirement to provide hand sanitizer, when available, was moved to a recommendation in the DHHS guidance document, which can be found here.
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 occupancy to the lesser of the following:
The other requirements that apply are as follows:
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 DHHS guidance document for restaurants can be found here.
Bars, Night Spots and Arenas
Phase 3 includes reopening provisions for bars, night spots and arenas that have seating for guests. The indoor areas of “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, must remain closed. However, lounges (such as cigar bars and hookah lounges), venues for live performances, and adult entertainment facilities can reopen indoor areas with a maximum capacity of 25 guests with each group of guests seated so that they are spaced out six feet from other guests. No alcohol can be served inside these establishments. These types of establishments, along with bars and spectator stands and viewing areas at a sporting facility, stadium, sporting complex, or speedway, may open their outdoor areas with a maximum capacity of the lesser of the following:
Alcohol may be served in these outdoor areas and each group of guests must be seated so that they are spaced out six feet from other guests. Bars not using waitstaff must designate an ordering area that allows each patron to wait six feet apart from other patrons. If necessary, patrons may place their orders by coming inside the bar, but they must consume their beverages in outdoor seating areas only.
The following requirements also apply:
Movie Theaters, Meeting Spaces and Entertainment Facilities
Various entertainment businesses and meeting venues are allowed to reopen under Phase 3, including the following:
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:
Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses
Personal care and grooming businesses include, but are not limited to, the following:
These businesses can open subject to the capacity limits defined as the lesser of the following:
In addition, the following apply to these business operations:
The DHHS guidance document for these 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 (provided, however, that the following establishments must remain closed if located within an amusement park):
These facilities must comply with the following requirements:
Large Outdoor Venues
An exception to the mass gathering ban is included in Phase 3 for “Very Large Outdoor Facilities.” A venue must meet all of the following criteria to qualify:
Capacity is limited to no more than seven percent of the facility's total seating capacity. 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. No group of spectators shall exceed ten people. All employees and guests must wear face coverings.
Amusement Parks may open at 30 percent capacity of the park’s normal maximum occupancy and operate outside attractions. The amusement park operator must limit the number of guests within each ride or vehicle to either:
Indoor rides and attractions must remain closed, although indoor restaurants, concessions, gifts shops or retail spaces, and restrooms may open.
Museums and Aquariums
Museums and aquariums may open subject to the following requirements:
Mass Gathering Ban
Mass gatherings are still prohibited and are defined as an event or convening that brings together more than ten people indoors (Executive Order 176) or more than fifty people outdoors at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs, and festivals. The mass gathering limit does not apply to retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, pools, childcare, day camps, overnight camps, educational institutions or government operations. However, it does apply to parties and receptions regardless whether the event takes place in a restaurant, in a conference center, in a hotel ballroom, in a venue that is used exclusively for receptions or parties, or in some other space otherwise open. 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.
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 or is simply wrapped around the lower face.”
Where Masks are Required
In general, face coverings are required as follows:
The face covering requirement is not appliable to workers, customers, or patrons who:
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.
Enforcement of Face Covering Requirements
Law enforcement officers may cite individuals who fail to wear face coverings as required. In addition, 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.
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).
The legislation also includes a new requirement that a person must 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. However, the bill provides that a person is not liable for the failure of any individual to comply with rules, policies, or guidelines contained in the notice.
Executive Order 153 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.”
COVID-19 Additional Resources (North Carolina):
NC Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/
NC Department of Commerce: https://www.nccommerce.com/
NC Judicial Branch: https://www.nccourts.gov/
NC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services: http://www.ncagr.gov/
Department of Insurance https://www.ncdoi.gov/
Golden LEAF Foundation - Rapid Recovery Loan Program https://ncrapidrecovery.org/
Department of Homeland Security:
FDIC and Other Bank/Lending Regulators:
US Small Business Administration: