New order limits access to grocery stores amid coronavirus crisis in NC

Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday ordered retail stores that are open to limit the number of shoppers allowed inside stores at one time.

The occupancy is now limited to no more than 20 percent of stores’ fire capacity. It takes effect at 5 p.m., Monday. Cooper also said stores must mark six feet of distance where people might gather, such as in checkout lines.

Cooper also said stores should make hand sanitizer accessible, use shields at the checkouts and mark aisles as one way to limit traffic.

The move comes two days after Cooper announced plans for new rules to prevent people from interacting while shopping at stores which are deemed essential and thus still open despite the active stay-at-home order aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.

Cooper also put in place a mandatory protective orders for nursing homes. It prevents gathering in common spaces, such as dining rooms and group activities. It also requires employees to wear face masks and screen for signs of sickness in employees and residents.

In a third order, additional measures will be put in place to get more unemployment claims processed faster. Since March 16, the state has received 497,000 unemployment claims and processed $40.3 million to North Carolina residents.

As of Thursday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services reported 3651 coronavirus cases and 65 deaths.

Harris Teeter joined grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Bi-Lo, and retailers like Walmart, Target and Lowe’s Home Improvement, in enforcing occupancy limits.