RALEIGH — In response to the dramatic rise in numerous key metrics due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced the enactment of a modified Stay-at-Home order statewide effective Friday, Dec. 11, and continuing until 5 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2021.

“As cases across the country continue to rise, we’ve seen rapid increases in our key metrics here in North Carolina,” Cooper said. “Our case counts have broken single-day records on three separate days in just the last week, and the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10 percent. A month ago, we were deeply concerned to see daily case counts go above 3,000. Now we’re shocked that the number has doubled, with some daily counts at more than 6,000.”

The order requires that North Carolina residents to stay at home from the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and will require businesses to close by 10 p.m., with alcohol sales capped at 9 p.m. in an attempt to curtail mass gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus as a vaccine continues the development and approval process.

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen provided an update on the metrics and trends in North Carolina, reporting a stark picture of virus spread at an alarming rate. This includes rates of more than 6,000 new cases on both Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, a record number since the pandemic began.

“To put the numbers in perspective, these are more cases in a single day than the entire population of Gov. Cooper’s hometown of Nashville, in Nash County,” Cohen noted. “We need to work exceptionally hard to get our numbers back down. ... We have a lot of work to do.”

The latest trends according to NCDHHS indicate that more than 80 percent of North Carolina counties were experiencing “substantial (orange)” or “critical (red)” COVID-19 community spread, according to the County Alert System developed by the organization.

“If you are in a red or orange county, you should limit going out to essential activities,” Cohen remarked. “You should avoid people that you don’t live with.”

According to the most recent order, individuals in North Carolina must stay at home or at the place they will stay for the night, with a number of exceptions, including:

  • Travel to or from a place of work when a worker’s presence is required by the worker’s employer
  • Travel for work purposes
  • Performing work at the workplace or other location directed by the employer when the worker’s presence is required by the worker’s employer
  • Travel to obtain groceries, take-out food, medical care, fuel, health care supplies or social services
  • Travel from a business that closed at or after 10 p.m.
  • Travel to a business that will open at or after 5 a.m.
  • Travel to take care of a family member, friend or pet in another household
  • Travel necessary for purposes of personal safety
  • Travel into or out of the state
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Using or providing shared transportation (including without limitation taxicabs, ride shares, buses, trains, airplanes, and travel to airports, train stations or bus stations)

The curfew does not apply to groups traveling to or attending a religious service or other activity exempted under Subsection 1.2 of the Executive Order, as well as collegiate and professional sporting events, the media, law enforcement, fire, paramedics and all other first responders and emergency responders, and the US government, state government and local governments.

According to the latest Executive Order, “events or convenings outside the home must end or pause no later than 10 p.m. At or before that time, guests must leave and travel home or to the place where they will stay for the night,” and that “live entertainment performances, entertainment events such as movie screenings, and youth and amateur sporting events must cease no later than 10 p.m. or be paused at that time.”

“The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness like we haven’t seen before. Though we’re all frustrated and weary of the fight, it’s more important than ever to take this virus seriously,” Cooper said. “With these additional actions, we hope to get our numbers down. Our top priority is, and must be, saving lives and keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.”

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