Stay-At-Home Restrictions – What It Means For You

On Monday at 5 p.m., North Carolina starts a new life under stay-at-home restrictions.

Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a statewide stay-at-home orderWake County, Durham and Orange County already follow similar rules.

So what does this mean? Can I still get groceries, go jogging, buy a book, change my oil? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

But it’s complicated.

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Here is a breakdown of how Cooper’s announcement will change your routine.

For more frequently asked questions, the governor’s office provides this FAQ.


The order takes effect Monday, March 30, at 5 p.m. It will be in effect for 30 days, until April 29, but “can be revised or extended.” The order is mandatory.


For a snapshot, here is what will remain open, according to a press release from the governor’s office: “Restaurants that provide take-out, drive-thru or delivery; grocery stores; ABC stores and beer and wine stores; doctors and other healthcare providers; pharmacies; hardware stores; post offices; office supply stores; gas stations and convenience stores; car dealerships; veterinarians and pet supply stores; hotels, airlines, buses, taxis and rideshare services; and places of worship.


Eight counties have already passed stay-at-home orders, including Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Orange and Wake.

While Cooper’s order applies statewide, if there are stricter guidelines imposed by the county or municipality, those supersede what the state is calling for.


▪ Grocery stores. Grocery sales are considered essential business, and all stores that sell them can remain open, though social-distancing space is urged while shopping. Cooper’s order allows for farmers’ markets and produce stands.

▪ Medicine. Pharmacies can stay open and prescriptions can be picked up. Doctors’ office visits are all OK, though many have already advised “telemedicine” rather than office visits for non-emergencies.

▪ Restaurants. Food establishments can remain open for take-out orders and delivery only. Food trucks can also operate, but the order prohibits any groups larger than 10 people and social distancing rules apply. To prevent gatherings of people waiting for food, some restaurants are using online ordering.

▪ Transportation. Gas stations can operate along with any auto supply stores or mechanics. Bicycles are also considered critical transportation. Airlines, taxis and other ride services will still work. Car dealerships and those who sell cars are also considered essential, under the state’s order.

▪ Recreation. Team and contact sports are prohibited. No basketball on public courts. Walking, hiking and running are encouraged, but be mindful of social spacing. Golf courses can operate as long as social distance is kept.

▪ Business. Any business deemed essential can stay open, including any of those mentioned above. Some of those include electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones and computers; lawn and garden equipment retailers; book stores that sell educational materials; and pet and feed stores.

Also banks, building and construction, mail delivery, food and other retail delivery, laundry, hotels and funeral service.

Businesses are allowed to keep minimum staff on the premises as necessary for inventory or payroll, but most should stay at home.

▪ Pets. Veterinarians are allowed but not groomers.

▪ Professional services. Those considered critical, such as work by attorneys and accountants, are allowed but services provided by phone or computer are preferred. Real estate is limited to appraisals and titles.

▪ ABC stores. Open as an exempt government office.

▪ Gun stores. The state says gun stores implementing social distancing requirements may stay open. In Wake County, these are not deemed essential in Wake.

▪ Entertainment. Movie theaters, auditoriums, arenas, amusement parks and playground equipment are already off-limits. Public gatherings with fewer than 10 people are permitted statewide as long as necessary space is left between people. Though libraries are closed, bookstores can remain open as long as they sell educational material.


By now, you hopefully know you can’t have a mass gathering of more than 10 people. And we know the novelty of a family gathering over Zoom may have worn off. But the state says it’s discouraged to visit friends and family members if “there is no urgent need,” Of course, if you need to be someone’s caregiver, or help them get groceries or medicine, practice safe social distancing.


Cooper said the order “has the force of law.” Really, the state is asking for voluntary compliance, but if the order is violated it could be considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. Cooper said “state and local law enforcement officers have the authority to enforce the order.”

Nobody is going to get cited or arrested unless they persistently flout the law. But police can ask people to disperse, Durham officials said.

Wake Sheriff Gerald Baker said deputies will be patrolling and will ask people politely to go home unless they need to be out. “There shouldn’t be much traffic out there,” he said.