New Developments and Provisions from Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 131 Effective April 13th

Published Wednesday, April 15, 2020 at 11:04 am
From the Office of Representative James D. Gailliard, Nash County-Rocky Mount
 
On April 9th: Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131. 
 
Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131:
1) Requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. 
2) Makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same. 
3) Unemployment benefits: issues changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.
 
Frequently Asked Questions: Executive Order 131
 
This information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.
 
Required and Recommended Policies for Retail Establishments
 
Which retail businesses are covered by this Executive Order?
This Executive Order (“the Order”) applies to any business in which customers enter to purchase goods or services, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, big box retail stores, pharmacies, ABC stores, banks, hardware stores, and vehicle dealerships. The Order does not apply to outdoor farmers markets. Retail businesses that have been closed by previous Executive Orders or by orders of their local governments are not permitted to reopen.
 
What is the occupancy limit imposed on retail establishments by the Order?
The Order limits retail establishments to no more than 20 percent of the business’s stated fire capacity or five customers for every one thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. Retail locations may choose which of the two calculations on which they base their maximum occupancy. For the square footage calculation, it includes the full footprint of the interior building, and all retail- and non-retail space.
 
What other requirements does the Order place on retail establishments?
The Order requires retail establishments to clearly mark six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers and in other high-volume areas to ensure proper social distancing. It also requires businesses to perform frequent and routine cleaning of high-touch areas.
 
What recommendations does the Order make for retail establishments?
The Order recommends that all open retail establishments:
• Supply and encourage the use of cloth face coverings for employees if it is not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart, and provide education for employees on the use of cloth face coverings.
• Place hand sanitizer at entry and exit points, and to have wipes or sprays available to sanitize carts and baskets, and have their employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer between each customer interaction;
• Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other high-risk groups;
• Post signs to remind customers and employees about social distancing; and
• Establish systems for online, email or phone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.
The Order also recommends that high-volume retail establishments use shields at cash registers, clearly mark designated entry and exit points, and provide store routing guidance.
 
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