By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Restaurants throughout the State of North Carolina were directed to close their dining rooms as of Wednesday, March 18 in efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed and Gov. Roy Cooper both issued executive orders on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 17 designating such and directing restaurants to only provide take-out, to-go orders.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed issued Executive Order #3 (2020) which states in part, “Per the recommendation by the Center for Disease Control and direction from our local health officials, I hereby announce the directive for all restaurants to close their dining rooms tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18. This measure will remain in effect until further notice. Restaurants may continue to provide take-out service, curb-side service, and delivery service to patrons. These preventative measures are being implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The executive order was issued as a supplement and amendment to the Declaration of State of Emergency issued by Chief Sneed on Friday, March 13.
In a video address on Tuesday afternoon, Chief Sneed commented, “I am so proud of our community. It has been demonstrated time and time again that when even one member of our community faces a hardship that we will all band together to provide support – both financial and emotional. We are a blessed people to have this underlying value system that prioritizes family togetherness and selfless support for one another.”
He continued, “Going forward, I encourage restaurants to find ways to serve customers utilizing take-out service, curb-side service, and delivery service. I understand this will be difficult for many of our small businesses. So, I thank you for your cooperation with this order.”
Gov. Cooper announced his executive order with a press conference on Tuesday afternoon in which he reported that there were 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. He took to Twitter following his conference and stated, “Today, we take another step: North Carolina restaurants and bars will be closed to sit-down service and limited to only take-out or delivery orders starting at 5 p.m. today. We did not come to this decision easily. But, North Carolina must keep fighting this pandemic with the right weapons. Take-out and delivery will still be allowed, and please know that grocery stores will remain open.”
In another executive order, he also changed some of the state’s unemployment benefits regulations including:
* Removes the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment benefits for those workers who lose their jobs.
* Removes the requirement that a person must look for another job during this time when so many potential employers are closed and social distancing guidelines are in effect.
* Allows employees who lose their jobs or, in certain cases have their hours reduced due to COVID-19 issues, to apply for unemployment benefits.
* Permits applicants to apply for benefits remotely, including by phone or online (www.des.nc.gov).
* Directs that employers will not to help responsible for benefits paid as a direct result of these COVID-19 claims.