Cooper’s Latest Decree Limits Occupancy at Essential Businesses

RALEIGH – At 5:00 PM Monday Governor Roy Cooper’s latest in a series of progressively restrictive executive orders will go into effect in an effort to dull the impact of the coronavirus. While all but ‘essential bussinesses’ have been ordered closed, and gatherings of more than 10 people banned, this order further limits how many people can be in those retail buildings at one time.

Executive Order No. 131requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees.”

More specifically:

  • Setting limits of how many people can be in a store at one time, 5 people per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% of fire marshal posted occupancy limits
  • Marking 6 feet of distance for areas where people gather like checkout lines
  • Requiring specific cleaning measures for retail stores

Many retail locations have already implemented the simple distancing measures and cleaning regimens, but the restriction on occupancy is a further tightening of the screws on those businesses fortunate enough to be allowed to remain open.

The remainder of the order is guidance for nursing homes and long term care facilities. The pattern has been for recommendations to turn into mandates, and this may very well happen here. Several outbreaks have occurred in nursing homes, spreading quickly among a contained group of especially vulnerable people.

The last section makes further adjustments to unemployment benefits applications by streamlining the red tape for employers to file batches of claims for laid off employees.

It is fitting that such an order starts with a restrictive edict on all commerce, and ends with a smoothing the path for batches on batches of unemployment claims. About 331 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 in North Carolina, and about 90 people have died. Meanwhile, more than half a million have filed for unemployment in the biggest claims spike in our state’s history.

Trips to the grocery or convenience store have, thus far, been relatively normal. That will now change with a ‘5 per 1000 sqft’ policy. You can read more of the order details here.

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