The first phase of Governor Cooper’s 3-phased reopening plan will begin on Friday, May 8th at 5:00PM. Phase one of the Governor’s plan eases some of the restrictions found in Executive Order 131. This period is designed to provide safe opportunities for people to socialize, boost our economy, and keep important safety restrictions in place. Executive Order 138 modifies the stay-at-home order to allow travel not currently defined as essential. Additionally, people will be allowed to leave home for commercial activity at any business that is allowed to be open. 

Major Takeaways: 

  • Citizens will be allowed to operate, and travel to, businesses previously classified as “nonessential”; 
  • Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity, and must follow all applicable public safety measures (see below for specific details about limits on customer traffic); 
  • Employers are encouraged to continue offering teleworking policies for employees; 
  • Worship services of more than 10 people are allowed outdoors if social distancing is observed; 
  • Previously closed parks can reopen as long as large groups do not congregate; 
  • Day camps will be allowed to take place this summer as long as applicable social distancing protocols are in place. However, overnight stays are not yet permitted; and 
  • Childcare facilities will be open to serve families of parents who are working or looking for work. 

Gyms, salons, and theatres must remain closed. Restaurants can continue to operate take-out, pick-up, and delivery services. However, dine-in service is still not permitted.

Retail locations must limit customer occupancy to not more than 50% of stated fire capacity. Retail Businesses that do not have a stated fire capacity must limit customer occupancy to twelve (12) customers for every one thousand (1000) square feet of the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers.

Executive Order 138 is set to expire on May 22nd, but that date could be extended if public health benchmarks are not met. This is a positive step forward for our community.  

As always, please refer to our COVID 19 resource page or Ask an Expert if you have any questions about operating your business.

Paycheck Protection Program Rules Update  

Updated guidance from the U.S. Department of the Treasury will provide additional relief to businesses. Paycheck Protection Program dollars can turn into a grant if at least 75% of the funds are spent on payroll by the recipient within eight weeks of being awarded the PPP dollars. However, many found it difficult to meet that requirement because of failed attempts to rehire employees. Now, the Treasury will not lower the forgiven amount of applicable PPP loans if a laid-off employee declines an offer to resume his or her job. Based on the new guidance, employers are required to make the job offer in writing, and document that it was declined by the employee. Healthy employees who are not caring for sick family members and decline a rehire offer will lose their unemployment insurance eligibility.