Jackson County Commissioners ease restrictions for Phase 1

Jackson County Commissioners lifted some restrictions by rescinding two previous declarations in accordance with Governor Roy Cooper’s phased plan to reopen the state. Commissioners lifted the restrictions with a Superseding Supplemental Declaration on May 7.

Jackson County remains under a State of Emergency as of March 16, but all Supplemental Declarations made that imposed additional restrictions since then have been terminated. Jackson County remains subject to all the mandates of the Governor’s Executive Orders.

Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order No. 138 eased restrictions across the state as of 5 p.m. on May 8, as the first phase of a three-part plan. Phase 1 eases restrictions on travel, business operations, and mass gatherings.

What’s news in Phase 1. Image courtesy of NC Department of Health and Human Services.

A notable change in Executive Order 138 includes Allowable Activities to leave one’s residence. Read full Order HERE.

Allowable Activities now include:

  1. For health and safety. People may leave their homes to engage in activities or perform tasks for the health and safety of themselves, their family or household members, or those who are unable to or should not leave their home (including, but not limited to, pets). For example, and without limitation, people may leave their homes to seek emergency services, obtain medical supplies or medication, or visit a health care professional or veterinarian.
  2. To look for and obtain goods and services. People may leave their homes to look for or obtain goods and services from a business or operation that is not closed by a current Executive Order. This authorization does not include attendance as a spectator at a sporting event, concert, or other performance.
  3. To engage in outdoor activity. People may leave their homes to engage in outdoor activities unless prohibited by this Executive Order.
  4. For work. People may leave their homes to perform work at any business, nonprofit, government, or other organization that is not closed by this Executive Order. For example, and without limitation, people can leave the house for employment, or to serve as a contractor at a for-profit business, a nonprofit organization, a part of government, a single person business, a sole proprietorship, or any other kind of entity or operation.
  5. To look for work. People may leave their homes to seek employment.
  6. To take care of others. People may leave their homes to care for or assist a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets as allowed by this Executive Order. This includes attending weddings and funerals.
  7. To worship or exercise First Amendment rights. People may leave their homes to travel to and from a place of worship or exercise any other rights protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its North Carolina counterparts.
  8. To travel between places of residence. People may leave their homes to return to or to travel between one’s place or places of residence. This includes, but is not limited to, child custody or visitation arrangements.
  9. To volunteer. People may leave their homes to volunteer with organizations that provide charitable and social services.
  10. To attend small outdoor get-togethers. People may travel to another person’s home for social purposes, so long as no more than ten (10) people gather and the activity occurs outside.
  11. To provide or receive government services. People may leave their homes for governmental services. Nothing in this Executive Order shall prohibit anyone from performing actions for, or receiving services from, the state or any of its political subdivisions, boards, commissions, or agencies. This Executive Order does not apply to the United States government.

Also in accordance with the Governor’s Order and guidance from the Jackson County Department of Public Health Director, Shelley Carraway, it is strongly advised that individuals leaving their residence for Allowable Activities take the following steps to reduce transmission of COVID-19:

  1. Maintain at least six feet social distancing from other individuals, with the exception of family or household members.
  2. Wear a cloth face covering when leaving home and wear it inside all public settings such as grocery stores, pharmacies, or other retail or public-serving businesses. A face Covering should also be worn outdoors when you cannot maintain at least six ( 6) feet distancing from other people with the exception of family or household members. These coverings function to protect other people more than the wearer.
  3. Carry hand sanitizer with you when leaving home, and use it frequently.
  4. Wash hands using soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible.
  5. Regularly clean high-touch surfaces such as steering wheels, wallets and phones.
  6. Stay at home if sick.

Though Lodging Facilities such as hotels, motels and short-term rentals can have a limited opening, Jackson County leadership urges individuals to remain vigilant to stop the spread of this virus.

Mass Gatherings are prohibited:

“Mass Gathering” means an event or convening that brings together more than ten people at the same time in a single space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, meeting hall, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs, and festivals.

Mass Gatherings do not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, for worship, or exercise of First Amendment rights, or for receiving governmental services. A Mass Gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, shopping malls, and shopping centers.

However, in these settings, people must follow the Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission as much as possible, and they should circulate within the space so that there is no sustained contact between people.

The Superseding Declaration states “Jackson County looks forward to the return of tourists to the area when appropriate, but this is not the time for a vacation. Hotel and Motel amenities, such as swimming pools, fitness centers and eat-in areas, may be limited or unavailable pursuant to the Governor’s Order. Hotels and Rental Landlords should follow CDC guidelines on cleaning hotels and rental units including using an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19 between customers. Key metrics related to COVID-19 will continue to be monitored and restrictions may be reinstated, or new ones implemented if trends indicate the need.”

Pictured at the top of the article is the Jackson County Courthouse in Sylva. Photo courtesy of Jackson County Emergency Management.

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