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The coronavirus has the potential to impact retailers, their customers and employees nationwide. North Carolina retailers’ first priority is always the health and safety of our customers and employees. For that reason, NCRMA is in close contact with state and federal officials and monitoring the coronavirus situation. We will use this page to share updates, link you to important documents, and provide industry specific information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 919-832-0811.

UPDATE: July 8, 2020

Coin Shortage Update

NCRMA has been following the nationwide coin shortage for the past several weeks. As this has become a growing concern for our members, we have had conversations with the NC Bankers Association and some banks over the last week regarding the long-term outlook and best practices.

The Federal Reserve estimates that nationally over $1 billion in coins are not currently being recirculated either because they are stuck at businesses that remain closed or remain in customers’ wallets as they move toward cashless payment options. Further compounding the problem, over the spring the U.S. Mint produced fewer coins than usual in an effort to protect their employees against the coronavirus. As a result, Federal Reserve Banks and their coin distribution locations began to allocate coins as a temporary measure. Now some stores are reporting to NCRMA that they are experiencing as much as an 80% decrease in available coin flow.

Unfortunately, the banks we’ve spoken with predict this will continue to be an issue through the end of the year. However they did recommend three best practices:

  1. Recycle your coins within your store. Rather than depositing your coins with your bank, use the coins you have in-store to restock your tills.
  2. Ask customers to round up for charity. When customers round up, it eliminates the need to provide coins as change and your store can write a check to the charity at the end of the “round up” campaign.
  3. Post signage asking customers to use exact change when possible.

Please let us know what you are hearing from your banks and what your coin allocations are like compared to your orders.

UPDATE: July 6, 2020

HB 118, Liability Safe Harbor, has been signed by the Governor (7/2/20) and is now law!

A top priority for NCRMA, HB 118 provides immunity from liability for any act or omission not amounting to gross negligence, willful or wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing, for claims arising from contraction of COVID-19. The bill is effective immediately and applies to claims arising no later than 180 days after the expiration or rescission of Executive Order No. 116, issued on March 10, 2020 (and does not apply to workers compensation claims). HB 118 is more broadly focused to all businesses than the liability protections provided to essential businesses in section of SB 704, that passed in early May, which provided time-limited civil liability immunity to health care providers and essential businesses for injuries or death resulting from customers or employees contracting COVID-19 at the business.

Signage Requirement: HB 118 requires businesses to provide reasonable notice of actions taken by them to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 on their premises. NCRMA has developed the COVID Prevention Measures sign that you may post for your business to meet this posting requirement which is based off of the requirements for businesses in the Governor’s Executive Orders.

It is also important to note, the sign can be used, IF AND ONLY IF, your business is actually doing ALL of the things noted on the sign (and listed below). You should already be meeting all of these requirements as they have all been previously directed under Executive Order.

  1. Reduced maximum occupancy – with posted signage (See below under: Emergency Maximum Occupancy)
  2. Screening employees daily for symptoms
  3. Requiring all employees to wear masks
  4. Performing frequent and routine cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas
  5. Encouraging Social Distancing – with posted signage (See below under: Shop Smart)
  6. Requesting customers to wear a mask – with posted signage (See below under: Face Covering Requirement)
  7. Requesting customers who are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms not to enter – with posted signage (See below under: Shop Smart)

REQUIRED SIGNS (by Executive Order) are linked below and can be found on NCRMA’s website at: https://www.ncrma.org/coronavirus/

 Face Covering Requirement

COVID Prevention Measures

Emergency Maximum Occupancy

Shop Smart

       Includes: Do Not Shop if Sick/Symptomatic and Social Distancing

Please note that while the “COVID Prevention Measures” sign is intended to help you comply with this new North Carolina law, it is not intended to serve as legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney to address more specific questions that may arise concerning this issue.

UPDATE: July 2, 2020

REMINDER: Post REQUIRED NC DHHS Signage to ensure EO 147 Compliance!

Before we head into the holiday weekend, have you double-checked your store signage at every single store location? Make sure you have one of the below signs from DHHS posted to ensure compliance with Executive Order 147. We are seeing stories in the media about retailers not enforcing mask requirements – if you post the required sign, you are in compliance with the order so please post the sign.

REQUIRED SIGNAGE for Businesses on Face Coverings

Executive Order 147 requires retail and restaurant employees and customers to wear face coverings, whether inside or outside, where physical distancing of six feet is not possible unless exceptions are met.

NCRMA wants to make sure you saw that new guidance was issued on Friday (6/26) that all retail and restaurant establishments MUST POST THE STATE NC DHHS SIGNAGE at the entrance of the establishment stating that face coverings are required per EO 147. Per NCRMA’s request, if the retail or restaurant establishment clearly posts the NC DHHS signage putting the customer on notice of the face covering requirement, it is deemed to be in compliance with the enforcement of face covering requirements for customers contained in EO 147.

PLEASE NOTE:

  1. Using your own signage does not make you compliant. You may use your own signage in addition to NC DHHS signage but you MUST use one of the signs linked below to be compliant.
  2. Posting the required signage does not make the retailer compliant with the requirement that the retailer’s employees wear face coverings as the new guidance only applies to customers.

A recommended best practice would be to have an employee at the entrance to a business establishment to monitor both capacity restrictions and offer disposable face coverings to those without one, but this is not required to be in compliance. Any violation of this requirement may be reported to local authorities.

If your retail establishment or restaurant experienced any situations or significant incidents due to the enforcement of the face covering requirement over the weekend, please let us know.

Additional Resources for Executive Order 147:

NCRMA EO 147 Mask Mandate Guidance:  https://bit.ly/NCMaskGuidance
EO 147 – https://bit.ly/NC-EO147
New! Requirements for the Use of Face Coverings and Masks (Spanish) (June 26, 2020) – see last question
New! NCDHHS FAQs on Cloth Coverings (Spanish) (June 26, 2020) – see last question

UPDATE: June 29, 2020

REMINDER: New Guidance for Retailers and Restaurants on EO 147 Compliance!
Face Coverings Required Statewide Effective, Friday, June 26 at 5pm

As you saw last week, Executive Order 147 requires retail and restaurant employees and customers to wear face coverings, whether inside or outside, where physical distancing of six feet is not possible unless exceptions are met.

NCRMA wants to make sure you saw that new guidance was issued on Friday (6/26) that all retail and restaurant establishments must post the state NC DHHS signage at the entrance of the establishment stating that face coverings are required per EO 147. Per NCRMA’s request, if the retail or restaurant establishment clearly posts the NC DHHS signage putting the customer on notice of the face covering requirement, it is deemed to be in compliance with the enforcement of face covering requirements for customers contained in EO 147.

PLEASE NOTE:

  1. Using your own signage does not make you compliant. You may use your own signage in addition to NC DHHS signage but you MUST use one of the signs linked below to be compliant.
  2. Posting the required signage does not make the retail establishment compliant with the requirement that the retailer’s employees wear face coverings as it guidance only applies customers. 

Required Signage Options for Businesses on Cloth Face Coverings

A recommended best practice would be to have an employee at the entrance to a business establishment to monitor both capacity restrictions and offer disposable face coverings to those without one, but this is not required to be in compliance. Any violation of this requirement may be reported to local authorities.

If your retail establishment or restaurant experienced any situations or significant incidents due to the enforcement of the face covering requirement over the weekend, please let us know.

Additional Resources for Executive Order 147:
NCRMA EO 147 Mask Mandate Guidance:  https://bit.ly/NCMaskGuidance
EO 147 – https://bit.ly/NC-EO147

Requirements for the Use of Face Coverings and Masks (Spanish) (June 26, 2020) – see last question

NCDHHS FAQs on Cloth Coverings (Spanish) (June 26, 2020) – see last question

UPDATE: June 26, 2020

Face Coverings Required Statewide Effective today, Friday, June 26 at 5pm

Executive Order 147 requires retail and restaurant employees and customers to wear face coverings, whether inside or outside, where physical distancing of six feet is not possible unless exceptions are met.

NCRMA just received confirmation from Governor Cooper’s office that new guidance will be issued momentarily on EO 147.

New guidance will say that all retail and restaurant establishments must post signage – Option 1 (English, Spanish) or Option 2 (English, Spanish– at the entrance of the establishment stating that face coverings are required per EO 147. Per NCRMA’s request, if the retail or restaurant establishment clearly posts the signage putting the customer on notice of the face covering requirement, it is deemed to be in compliance with the enforcement of face covering requirements contained in EO 147.

Required EO 147 Signage:
Option 1 (English, Spanish)
Option 2 (
English, Spanish)

A recommended best practice would be to have an employee at the entrance to a business establishment to monitor both capacity restrictions and offer disposable face coverings to those without one, but this is not required to be in compliance. Any violation of this requirement may be reported to local authorities.

Please track and let us know if your retail establishment or restaurant have any situations or significant incidents due to the enforcement of the face covering requirement.

Resources for Executive Order 147:

NCRMA EO 147 Mask Mandate Guidance:  https://bit.ly/NCMaskGuidance
EO 147 – https://bit.ly/NC-EO147
FAQs – https://bit.ly/EO147FAQs
DHHS Updated Retail Guidance – https://bit.ly/NCDHHS_Retail
DHHS EO 147 Guidance – https://bit.ly/New147Guidance

UPDATE: June 25, 2020

Updated Signage for New Face Covering Mandate

To address Governor Cooper’s announcement yesterday of Executive Order 147 that mandates face coverings in NC beginning Friday, June 26 at 5pm, we have created two new signs for you to use in your storefronts.

You do not need to use both signs, but may choose the sign that best suits your needs.

If you need any additional signage specific to your business, please contact Ann Edmondson at anne@ncrma.org or 919-818-5806 and she will be glad to help.

NCRMA is in continued communication with Governor Cooper’s office regarding our concerns about the enforcement of the face covering mandate being forced onto our retailers.

We will keep you posted.

UPDATE: June 24, 2020

NC Governor Mandates Face Coverings Statewide
Phase 2 Extended 3 additional weeks until July 17

Governor Cooper held a press conference at 3:00pm this afternoon announcing a statewide face covering requirement as well as an extension of Phase 2 of re-opening, which was set to end this Friday, June 26, for three additional weeks until Friday, July 17.

Executive Order 147 (EO 147) extends all aspects of Phase 2, which went into effect on May 22, as delineated in EO 141, which allowed additional businesses such as food establishments, bottle shops and wine shops to open for dine-in service.. Rather than moving into Phase 3, the Governor announced today that Phase 2 will instead be extended until July 17 at which time the Governor will assess whether to ease restrictions on gyms, fitness centers, bars, museums, and public playgrounds.

Face Coverings Required Statewide Effective Friday, June 26 at 5pm

EO 147 will require people to wear face coverings in public spaces, whether inside or outside, where physical distancing of six feet is not possible. NCRMA is continuing to be in communication with the Governor’s office about the onerous requirements this put into effect for retailers to enforce this new requirement. Last Thursday, 6/18, NCRMA sent a letter to Governor Cooper specifically requesting that retailers not be tasked with becoming the enforcement authority for any face mask requirement. Unfortunately, the Executive Order asks exactly that of businesses and, in fact, states that retail businesses can be cited and subjected to a fine for lack of enforcement.

Enforcement: Despite the request of NCRMA to the contrary, citations related to this Order can be written to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings. Operators of businesses and organizations are entitled to rely on their customers or patrons’ statements about whether or not they are exempt from the face covering requirements, and businesses and organizations do not violate this Order if they rely on customer or patron statements. However, the Order also states that anyone meeting any of the noted exceptions to the requirement should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition.

Law enforcement personnel cannot criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this Order against individual workers, customers, or patrons. However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the business or refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.

NCRMA will host a call tomorrow, Thursday, June 25 at 10:00am EST to go through the details of Executive Order 147.

Executive Order 147
EO 147 Press Release
Data/Slide Presentation on COVID Metrics

Resources:
EO 147 Frequently Asked Questions
EO 147 DHHS Face Covering Guidance
NCRMA EO 147 Face Covering Mandate Signage

UPDATE: June 22, 2020

Local COVID Order Updates

New! Greensboro, NC Face Coverings: Effective Tuesday 6/23 at 5pm, the City of Greensboro will require face coverings within the city limits. https://bit.ly/GreensboroJune23

New! Southport, NC Face Coverings: Effective today 6/22 at 5pm the City of Southport, NC will require face coverings within the city limits.

New! Wilmington, NC Curfew: The City of Wilmington has an overnight curfew in place until further notice from 7:30pm – 7am on pedestrian activity in the street and median of Market St. between 3rd St & 5th Ave. and the median of 3rd St. between Market and Orange Streets. Foot traffic is allowed on the sidewalk.

As a reminder, the following localities currently have mask requirements in effect:

  • Buncombe County and the City of Asheville
  • Durham County and the City of Durham
  • Orange County (including Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough)
  • City of Raleigh (Effective Friday 6/19 at 4pm)
  • Town of Boone (Effective Saturday, 6/20 at 9am)
  • City of Kinston (Effective Tuesday, 6/23 at 5pm)
  • Town of Knightdale (Effective Sunday, 6/21 at 5pm)
  • Dare County (Effective Sunday 6/21 at 9am)

We will continue to monitor other local considerations of face coverings and let you know updates as soon as we learn of them.

UPDATE: June 19, 2020

New Local Face Covering Requirements

North Carolina continues to operate under Phase 2 of re-opening that became effective May 22 under Executive Order 141 which allows additional businesses such as food establishments, bottle shops and wine shops to open for dine-in service. Other businesses continue to remain closed such as bars, gyms and indoor fitness facilities. Phase 2 will continue under EO 141 until next Friday, June 26 at which time the Governor will announce whether or not North Carolina will enter Phase 3. Governor Cooper held a press conference yesterday to say that he will announce a comprehensive plan at the beginning of next week regarding what protocols will be in effect following the expiration of Phase 2 next Friday. The Governor also announced this week that he and his administration are considering the possibility of mandating the use of face coverings in response to the uptick in hospitalizations and percentage of positive tests. As a reminder, face coverings have been strongly encouraged since North Carolina entered Phase 1 on May 8.

NCRMA Phase 2 Reopening Guidance: https://bit.ly/NCRMA_Phase2
Restaurant/Dine-In Guidelines
Retail Guidelines

New! Face Covering Requirements this week:

  • The City of Raleigh’s mandate on face coverings goes into effect today, Friday, June 19, at 4:00 pm (https://bit.ly/RaleighFaceCoverings)
  • The Town of Boone face covering mandate become effective tomorrow, Saturday, June 20 at 9:00 am (https://bit.ly/BooneFaceCoverings)
    • Violations for non-compliance constitute a Class 2 Misdemeanor, beginning on July 11, but law enforcement are expected to first educate and then enforce with continued non-compliance.
  • The Town of Knightdale’s mandate goes into effect Sunday, June 21 at 5:00 pm (https://bit.ly/KnightdaleFaceCoverings).

Additional localities with face covering requirements that remain in place:

  • Buncombe County and the City of Asheville
    • Durham County & City of Durham
  • The Durham order also restricts indoor mass gatherings to 10 people rather than 25.
    • Orange County (including Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough)
  • The Orange County order also limits tables in dine-in seating to 6 people as opposed to 10 as in the statewide order.

We will continue to monitor other local considerations of face coverings and let you know updates as soon as we learn of them.

UPDATE: June 17, 2020

Tonight, the City of Raleigh issued a proclamation mandating face coverings in places where social distancing cannot be maintained, with exceptions.

It goes into effect this Friday, June 19 at 4:00 pm and remains in effect until rescinded.

Exceptions include:

  • People whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
  • Those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition.
  • Children under 12 years of age.
  • Restaurant patrons while they are dining.
  • In private, individual offices.
  • When complying with directions from law enforcement officers.
  • In settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, including when obtaining or rendering goods or services, such as the receipt of dental services or while swimming.
  • While with members of a family or the same household.

This proclamation, which is modeled after Durham County’s face covering ordinance, does not require enforcement by business owners and law enforcement are strongly encouraged to educate and to encourage voluntary compliance with the order, rather than enforcement. The order does, however, mandate that all employees wear face coverings and recommends that businesses require customers to wear face coverings when entering their store.

Click here for the proclamation: https://bit.ly/RaleighFaceCoverings

UPDATE: June 15, 2020

At the end of this week, it will have been one month since Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 141 and moved North Carolina into Phase 2. In North Carolina we have seen an increase in both positive cases of COVID and hospitalizations. The statewide requirements set forth under Executive Order 141 are still in effect (a few localities such as Durham and Orange Counties have additional restrictions) and we want to share them here again as a reminder of what you should be doing in your business. Please take a minute to review these requirements and make sure your store location is in compliance and to ensure you are providing a safe and health shopping experience for your employees and customers.

Retail Requirements:

  • Limit occupancy of all operating establishments to no more than 50 percent of the stated fire capacity or 12 per 1,000 square feet if there is not a fire code number readily available.
  • Post the reduced “Emergency Maximum Occupancy” in a noticeable place. Sign templates are also available in English and Spanish on NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Post signage reminding people about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). Know Your Ws sign templates are also available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at point-of-sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at deli counters and near high-demand products.
  • Perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g., doors, doorknobs, rails, tables, chairs) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times.
  • Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening (standard interview questionnaire ) (English|Spanish) of employees at entrance to workplace with immediately sending symptomatic workers home to isolate.
  • Post signage at the main entrance requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter, such as Know Your Ws/Stop if You Have Symptoms flyers (English – Color, Black & White; Spanish – Color, Black & White).

Restaurant/Dine-In Requirements:

  • Ensure social distancing by arranging tables and seating to achieve at least 6-foot separation between parties for indoor and outdoor dining. o
    • Each group of people sitting at a counter should be separated by six (6) feet.
  • Ensure Emergency Maximum Occupancy is followed. The Emergency Maximum Occupancy is calculated using the following three tests. The most restrictive number must be used.
    • Limit to 50% of stated fire capacity or 12 people per 1,000 square feet if there is not a fire code number available. When no fire code number is available for outdoor dining, the 12 people per 1,000 square feet number should be applied.
    • Limit the number of people in the space so that groups can stay six (6) feet apart.
    • Arrange the restaurant so that customers sitting at a table are not within six (6) feet of any customers sitting at another table. Moreover, each group of customers sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six (6) feet.
  • Post the reduced “Emergency Maximum Occupancy” in a noticeable place. Sign templates are also available in English and Spanish on NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Post signage reminding people about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). Know Your Ws sign templates are available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as any cash register or any place where customers wait to be seated
  • Perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas (e.g., doors, doorknobs, rails) with an EPA approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), and increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times and of all shared objects (e.g., payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders) between use.
    • Disinfect dining tables and booths, including condiment containers and reusable menus, between each use, allowing the disinfectant to sit for the necessary contact time recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Promote frequent use of hand washing and hand sanitizer for wait/food service staff upon reporting to work and frequently throughout shift. Hand washing is required to at least meet the requirements as specified in the North Carolina Food Code Manual, Sections 2-301.12, 2-301.14, and 2-301.15.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening (standard interview questionnaire ) (English|Spanish) of employees at entrance to workplace with immediately sending symptomatic workers home to isolate.
  • Post signage at the main entrance requesting that people who have been symptomatic with fever and/or cough not enter, such as Know Your Ws/Stop if You Have Symptoms flyers (English – Color, Black & White; Spanish – Color, Black & White).
  • Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home.

Wine Shops/Bottle Shops and Grocery Stores with an On-Premise License

If you are pouring malt beverages and wine for on-premise consumption you must follow the guidelines for restaurants and retail.

In addition to normal social distancing and sanitation guidelines we wanted to specifically remind you that if you are using tables or bar stools, that you, as an ABC Permittee, are ensuring:

  • That if you have a group of customers at a table or using bar stools. the group must be distanced at least six feet apart from other groups or customers using a separate table or bar stools. It is incumbent upon you, as the ABC permittee, to inquire and identify if four people, using four bar stools for instance, are together as a group of four, if they are two separate groups or are four individual customers. If the four people are two groups of customers, then the two groups should be separated by six feet. If the four customers are all individual customers and not in a group, then each customer’s stool should be set apart six feet.
  • That groups larger than 10 not be allowed to sit at a table together unless they are members of the same family or household. (10 is the required limit and 6 is a recommended limit).
  • Similarly, do not allow for shared tables among multiple parties unless the seats can be arranged to maintain social distancing between parties.
  • Also, to the extent possible, ensure that your servers maintain six feet of social distancing from both customers and other employees. When servers cannot maintain six feet of social distance, it is recommended that they wear a face covering.

For the full RETAIL guidelines, click here.
For the full RESTAURANT guidelines, click here.

EO 141 Frequently Asked Questions
NC Department of Health and Human Services Resources

UPDATE: June 10, 2020

Orange County Update

Orange County today announced it is amending its State of Emergency to require all residents and employees in the county to wear facial coverings in public places where 6-feet social distancing cannot be maintained.

This amendment goes into effect on Friday, June 12 at 5:00 pm and remains in effect through August 31.

When NC moved into Phase 2, Orange County moved into a ‘Safer at Home’ order, requiring retail and restaurant staff to wear face coverings and recommending customers to wear them in the store.

This amendment adds the requirement that face coverings must be worn by:

  • All customers, employees and other users of restaurants and grocery and retail stores while they are indoors.
  • All occupants of public transportation vehicles.
  • Anyone in an indoor or outdoor situation where they cannot maintain a 6-foot physical distance from others.

Face coverings are not required:

  • For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
  • For those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition.
  • For children under 12 years old.
  • For restaurant customers while they are dining.
  • In private offices.
  • When complying with directions of law enforcement officers.
  • In settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering when obtaining or rendering goods or services.
  • While with family or household members.

NCRMA spoke with Orange County this morning to ensure it is not the responsibility of the retailer to enforce this policy. The County confirmed that it will be up to individual businesses to determine their enforcement but that they do not intend to put employees in the position of questioning customers as they may fall into a category allowing for an exception from the requirement.

Click here for a copy of the order: https://bit.ly/OrangeCoMask.

UPDATE: June 1, 2020

Durham City and County Councils Issues Safer at Home Order; Reopens Restaurants Beginning Monday

Durham County and City issued a joint Safer at Home Order today as their current order is set to expire Monday. The changes within this order go into effect at 8:00 am on Monday, June 1.

This order:

  • Allows restaurants, or those businesses EO 141 regulates in the same manner as a restaurant, to reopen for on-premise consumption, beginning Monday, June 1 at 8am. Requires no more than 6 people at a table for on-premise consumption;
  • Allows breweries, taprooms, distilleries, etc. to operate just as restaurants are by adhering to the 50% capacity and other requirements noted;
  • Allows personal care businesses to reopen on Monday, June 1 at 8am.

Masks: Masks will continue to be required for residents and employees in settings that are unable to socially distance.

Bar and Nightclubs: In accordance with Governor Cooper’s Phase 2 orders, bars and nightclubs are unable to open within this order.

See below for Durham’s comparison of this Safer at Home Order to EO 141:

Voluntary Self-Certification: The Recovery and Renewal Task Force, which is comprised of health experts, industry leaders, and the Durham Chamber of Commerce, will issue advisory guidance outlining a voluntary, self-certification process. This advisory guidance is intended to allow businesses to show customers that the business is voluntarily adopting best public health practices. As soon as more information is released, we will share with members who elect to voluntarily self-certify.

In addition to the changes made to retail and restaurants, this order sets guidance for childcare, summer camps, and real estate.

Click here for Durham’s Safer at Home Order.

UPDATE: May 29, 2020

On May 20, 2020, Governor Cooper announced in Executive Order 141 that restaurants would be able to resume serving food and beverages for on-site consumption but that “bars” would remained closed for business. The definition of a “bar” requires that the business be “primarily engaged in the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption.”

NCRMA worked with the Governor’s Office on this last clause to ensure that wine shops, bottle shops and grocery stores could begin pouring for on-site consumption. On Friday, NCRMA issued the linked analysis of Executive 141 and how it applied to certain ABC permittees.

On May 24, 2020 the Commission issued the following guidance:
https://abc.nc.gov/PublicResources/LegalAnnouncement/274

An establishment shall not be deemed “principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption” (and thus may be open under Executive Order No. 141) if it meets one of the following tests:

  • It produces alcoholic beverages pursuant to a commercial permit issued by the ABC Commission (G.S. §§ 18B‑1101 to 18B-1105) and is authorized by such permit to also have retail sales to consumers.
    1. Examples: Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
  • Its primary business purpose is to sell at retail alcohol beverages for consumption off the premises.  Occasional tastings or consumption during an educational seminar, as authorized by ABC permits, may be a part of the business model, so long as the majority of total sales are not derived from alcohol for on-premises consumption.
    1. Examples: Bottle Shops, Wine Shops

Additionally, because grocery stores meet the definition of a “restaurant” under Chapter 130A these businesses are also allowed to open and serve both food and beverages for on-site consumption.

Businesses allowed to reopen under Phase 2 will need to follow the appropriate requirements as set forward in Executive order 141 for retailers and restaurants linked below:
Restaurant/Dine-In Guidelines
Retail Guidelines

As we head into the second weekend of Phase 2, we wanted to again remind wine shops/bottle shops and grocery stores that are pouring malt beverages and wine for on-premise consumption that you must follow the guidelines for restaurants and retail that were issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition to normal social distancing and sanitation measures contained within these guidelines we wanted to specifically remind you that if you are using tables or bar stools, that you, as an ABC Permittee, are ensuring:

  1. That if you have a group of customers at a table or using bar stools. the group must be distanced at least six feet apart from other groups or customers using a separate table or bar stools. It is incumbent upon you, as the ABC permittee, to inquire and identify if four people, using four bar stools for instance, are together as a group of four, if they are two separate groups or are four individual customers. If the four people are two groups of customers, then the two groups should be separated by six feet. If the four customers are all individual customers and not in a group, then each customer’s stool should be set apart six feet.
  2. That groups larger than 10 not be allowed to sit at a table together unless they are members of the same family or household. (10 is the required limit and 6 is a recommended limit).
  3. Similarly, do not allow for shared tables among multiple parties unless the seats can be arranged to maintain social distancing between parties.
  4. Also, to the extent possible, ensure that your servers maintain six feet of social distancing from both customers and other employees. When servers cannot maintain six feet of social distance, it is recommended that they wear a face covering.

Restaurant/Dine-In Guidelines
Retail Guidelines

UPDATE: May 26, 2020

On May 20, 2020, Governor Cooper announced in Executive Order 141 that restaurants would be able to resume serving food and beverages for on-site consumption but that “bars” would remained closed for business. The definition of a “bar” requires that the business be “primarily engaged in the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption.”

NCRMA worked with the Governor’s Office on this last clause to ensure that wine shops, bottle shops and grocery stores could begin pouring for on-site consumption. On Friday, NCRMA issued the linked analysis of Executive 141 and how it applied to certain ABC permittees.

On May 24, 2020 the Commission issued the following guidance:
https://abc.nc.gov/PublicResources/LegalAnnouncement/274

An establishment shall not be deemed “principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption” (and thus may be open under Executive Order No. 141) if it meets one of the following tests:

  • It produces alcoholic beverages pursuant to a commercial permit issued by the ABC Commission (G.S. §§ 18B‑1101 to 18B-1105) and is authorized by such permit to also have retail sales to consumers.
    1. Examples: Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
  • Its primary business purpose is to sell at retail alcohol beverages for consumption off the premises.  Occasional tastings or consumption during an educational seminar, as authorized by ABC permits, may be a part of the business model, so long as the majority of total sales are not derived from alcohol for on-premises consumption.
    1. Examples: Bottle Shops, Wine Shops

Additionally, because grocery stores meet the definition of a “restaurant” under Chapter 130A these businesses are also allowed to open and serve both food and beverages for on-site consumption.

Businesses allowed to reopen under Phase 2 will need to follow the appropriate requirements as set forward in Executive order 141 for retailers and restaurants linked below:
Restaurant/Dine-In Guidelines
Retail Guidelines

On May 24, 2020, the Commission also issued guidance allowing ABC permittees, that are allowed to open, to extend their premises but to do so they must take certain steps including obtaining permission from the property owner, clearly marking where the premises has been extended and ensuring customers do not take open containers outside the extended premises. The extended premises must abut a wall or the physical building of the permittee. Note that the local government must approve the extension and the permit holder must notify the ALE before extending their premises as well as maintain a diagram of the extended premises on-site.

https://abc.nc.gov/PublicResources/LegalAnnouncement/275

To notify ALE of your temporary extension of premises, visit: https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organization/law-enforcement/alcohol-law-enforcement/about-ale, click “Contact ALE by Email” and send an email with your Trade Name and complete address.

UPDATE: May 20, 2020

North Carolina Governor Cooper Roy Cooper held a press conference at 5pm to announce that North Carolina’s metrics are on-track to move into Phase 2 of reopening this Friday, May 22 at 5pm EST. Executive Order 141 (EO 141) that moves us into Phase 2 is set to expire on June 26, 2020 at 5pm.

Executive Order 141
EO 141 Frequently Asked Questions
NC Department of Health and Human Services Resources
NC COVID-19 Trends and Metrics

EO 141 does lift the Stay-at-Home Order and instead moves North Carolina into a “safer at home” recommendation. The order continues to encourage telework and to avoid non-essential travel and in-person meetings. High-risk individuals are encouraged to stay home and travel only for essential purposes. The “3 Ws” of wearing your face covering, washing your hands and waiting 6-feet apart are still strongly encouraged.

EO 141 extends the prohibition on excessive pricing under North Carolina’s price gouging statute from Executive Order 116 through June 26, 2020 at 5pm.

Mass Gatherings Limited: In Phase 2, gatherings of more than ten people in a single indoor space remains prohibited. In outdoor spaces, gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. These mass gathering limits include parades, fairs, festivals, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, and meeting halls. This restriction does not apply to retail businesses, restaurants and other business settings where other restrictions apply.

Businesses allowed to open under Phase 2:
(Additional guidance for these various types of businesses is included in the FAQ document and on the DHHS website)

  • Permitted food establishments and other businesses that both prepare and serve food may open under the requirements and recommendations included in EO 141. This includes, but is not limited to, restaurants, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food courts, and food kiosks and dine-in areas of grocery or convenience stores.
  • NCRMA has received initial guidance that a bottle shop, wine shop or grocery store that is “not principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption” would not meet the definition of a “bar” under Section 1.1. Therefore the prohibition under Section 8B solely prohibiting “bars” would NOT prohibit bottle shops/wine shops/grocery stores from selling beer or wine for on-premise consumption as long as these bottle shops/wine shops/grocery stores businesses do not meet the definition of a “bar”.  Additionally the clause in Section 8B that states “… this Executive Order does not direct the closure of retail venues that provide for the sale of beer, wine and liquor for off-site consumption only” does not restrict a retail business that does not meet the definition of a bar from pouring for on-site consumption. It is our understanding that these businesses may remain open and therefore operate under their current ABC permits abiding by the retail requirements contained Executive Order 141 and the Guidance Document. NCRMA has requested that this clarification be added to the frequently asked questions for EO 141.
  • Child care businesses may open to serve all children, as long as they follow state health guidelines;
  • Overnight camps may operate, following specific public health requirements and guidance;
  • Personal care, grooming, massage, and tattoo businesses may open with specific requirements for disinfection of equipment, face coverings for the service providers, six feet of distance between customers, and at 50 percent reduced occupancy;
  • Indoor and outdoor pools to open with 50 percent reduced occupancy, following specific public health requirements;
  • Sporting and entertainment events may occur in large venues for broadcast to the public, so long as the events occur in large venues and spectators are limited to the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Business that are specifically required to remain closed during Phase 2:

  • Public playgrounds remain closed;
  • Bars and nightclubs remain closed (bars are defined as establishments that are not eating establishments or restaurants, that have a permit to sell alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption and that are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption);
  • Movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, arcades, and skating rinks remain closed;
  • Bingo parlors and other gaming establishments remain closed;
  • Visitation at long-term care facilities remains restricted, except for certain compassionate care situations
  • The following facilities that operate within an indoor space remain closed: spas, exercise facilities, gyms, fitness studios, martial arts facilities, dance studios, trampoline and rock-climbing facilities, roller skating rinks, ice staking rinks, and basketball courts.

Restaurant/Dine-In Requirements:
(Reminder that dine-in eating would include any dine-in areas that have been closed within a business that has remained open such as a convenience store or grocery store)

  • Limit customers in indoor and outdoor seating areas to the Emergency Maximum Occupancy limit;
    • Emergency Maximum Occupancy for restaurants is the lowest number produced by applying the following three tests:
      • Fifty percent of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twelve customers for every 1,000 square feet of the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests).
      • Limiting the number of people in the space so that everyone can stay six feet apart.
      • People sitting at a table must not be within six feet of any customers sitting at another table. Moreover, each group of customers sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six feet.
  • Limit customers at tables so that no more than ten people shall be seated together at the same table. More than ten people may sit together at the same table, however, only if they are members of the same household;
  • Ensure that customers sitting at a table are not within six feet of any customers sitting at another table, and ensuring that customers at counters are separated by six feet;
  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place;
  • Post signs reminding customers and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been sick with a fever and/or cough not enter;
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace;
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers;
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19);
  • Increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., dining tables, booths, counters, payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders, and reusable menus) between each use;
  • Promote frequent use of hand-washing and hand sanitizer for wait staff and food service staff throughout the shift and upon reporting to work. Hand washing must at least meet the requirements specified in the North Carolina Food Code Manual; and
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as a cash register or place where customers wait to be seated at their table.
  • Face coverings for employees and customers are strongly encouraged. People sitting at a table do not need to be members of the same household. This Executive Order does not require servers and wait staff to stay six feet away from customers.
  • All types of restaurants may open in Phase 2, including, but not limited to, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food courts, and food kiosks. This includes not only free-standing locations but also locations within other businesses or facilities, including airports, shopping centers, educational institutions, or private clubs where food and beverages are permitted to be consumed on premises.

For the full RETAIL guidelines, click here.
For the full RESTAURANT guidelines, click here.

UPDATE: May 19, 2020

Preliminary Phase 2 Guidance for Dine-In Services

North Carolina is currently under Phase 1 of reopening under Executive Order 138 which expires this Friday at 5pm. Governor Cooper is anticipated to hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon regarding the next Executive Order which could move us into Phase 2 of re-opening at that time as long as North Carolina’s metrics stay on track.

This evening, the Division of Public Health at the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) shared the following preliminary guidelines with NCRMA for restaurants and dine-in eating. Dine-in eating would include any dine-in areas that have been closed within a business that has remained open such as a convenience store or grocery store. This guidance is intended to help businesses poised for reopening to prepare their physical spaces, train their staff, and plan for new processes to help protect customers and employees.

NC DHHS Preliminary Guidance

Review these DHHS guidelines for both requirements and recommendations  

NCRMA will be closely following Governor Cooper’s announcement and, when a new Executive Order is released, will provide information to you as soon as possible with additional details including if and when North Carolina will be moving to Phase 2.

SBA UPDATE: May 15, 2020

Today, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.

The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:

  • Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
  • Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
  • Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
  • Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined

The PPP was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to eligible small businesses to keep American workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The documents released today will help small businesses seek forgiveness at the conclusion of the eight week covered period, which begins with the disbursement of their loans.

Click here to view the application and instructions.

UPDATE: May 15, 2020

Durham County/City of Durham – Issued a new Stay-At-Home Order that will become effective at 5:00 pm on May 15, 2020 and will remain in effect until rescinded.

https://www.dconc.gov/home/showdocument?id=32004

While the Durham County/City of Durham Stay-At-Home Order largely aligns with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 138 there are a few areas where it is more stringent:

  1. Continues to require a health screening for employees including the taking of the employee’s temperature to the extent possible;
  2. Requires businesses to maintain social distancing of employees and customers by controlling entry to the business and regulating customer spacing within the business including in high traffic areas and at the point-of-sale;
  3. Requires, rather than encourages, facial coverings by both employees and customers where social distancing cannot be maintained;
  4. Requires that employees frequently wash or sanitize their hands and that businesses provide a means for customers to also wash or sanitize their hands;
  5. Requires businesses to prevent employees from sharing tools and to clean high touch areas like door handles, gas pump handles and credit card machines frequently;
  6. Prohibits businesses from providing free or sample foods. Businesses may provide complimentary food to employees like a box lunch or prepackaged snacks along with wrapped utensils.

Surf City – Effective May 8, 2020, employees must wear a facial covering.

http://www.surfcitync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2247/COVID-19-Update-5-8-2020-?bidId=

UPDATE: May 7, 2020

Planning for Phase 1

We were glad to have the opportunity to present a webinar to more than 150 participants this morning on safely reopening retail in Phase 1.

If you are interested, we have linked to the recording of the full presentation.

If you are only interested in the slides from the powerpoint presentation, they are also available in PDF format.

There were several sign templates also presented during the webinar.

Emergency Maximum Occupancy

  • LINK HERE for a form fill sign to type in your EMO before you print
    LINK HERE to simply print and write in your EMO

Consumers stay 6ft apart

Shop Smart

If you would like to access the information from NC DHHS regarding Phase 1 including FAQs on Face Coverings and a Symptom Screening Checklist, those are available at: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-guidance#phase-1-easing-of-restrictions.

Lastly, we shared information this morning about A&B Store Fixtures, a North Carolina-based, family-run NCRMA member, who is currently stocking COVID-19 supplies that may be of interest to you. They are currently stocking KN95 masks, hand sanitizer and acrylic virus guards. For more information, pictures of the products available, and contact information for A&B, please link to: https://indd.adobe.com/view/b2641fdc-b675-419e-b868-9cd32c86c51d

If there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

UPDATE: May 5, 2020

NC Governor Announces Phase 1 Reopen Plans for Friday, May 8

Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference at 5pm today (Tuesday, May 5) to announce that North Carolina will enter phase 1 of North Carolina’s re-open plan beginning this Friday, May 8 at 5:00 pm. The stay-at-home Executive Order (EO) 121 was extended in EO 135 and was set to expire on Friday.  Executive Order 121 and 135 enacted stay-at-home requirements in place since March 30 that designated retailers as either essential or non-essential.

Today, Governor Cooper signed new Executive Order 138. While EO 138 does not lift the stay-at-home order, it replaces previous executive orders (Eos 121, 131 and 135) to begin Phase 1 this Friday, May 8 at 5pm. The order is set to expire on Friday, May 22 at 5pm at which point the Governor will examine whether North Carolina will enter Phase 2.

Executive Order 138
Executive Order 138 FAQ
Phase 1 Side-by-Side Comparison Graphic
Governor’s Press Release on EO 138

COVID-19 Data and Trends

Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Mandy Cohen, began by emphasizing three “W’s” to the general public as we enter Phase 1: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart.

What new Executive Order 138 means for your business:

  • Phase 1 removes the designation of essential and non-essential businesses, allowing a business to open if it can practice social distancing and other transmission reduction strategies.
  • Retail businesses can operate at 50 percent of stated fire capacity as long as social distancing requirements can be met.
  • A business cannot reopen if it has been specifically closed, such as bars, personal care or grooming establishments, and entertainment venues.
  • North Carolinians are allowed to leave their homes to engage in commercial activity at businesses that are open.

The following businesses remain closed during Phase 1:

  • Restaurants remain closed for dine-in services, but may continue to stay open to provide drive-through, take-out, and delivery;
  • Personal care and grooming businesses, including barber shops, hair and nail salons
  • Health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, and other indoor exercise facilities remain closed, including yoga studios, martial arts facilities, indoor trampoline, and rock-climbing facilities; and
  • Entertainment facilities remain closed, including performance venues, movie theaters, bowling alleys, playgrounds and indoor and outdoor pools.

All retail businesses open to the public are required to:

  • Direct customers and staff to stay at least six feet apart except at point of sale if applicable;
  • Limit occupancy to not more than 50 percent of stated fire capacity and ensure that social distancing of six feet apart is possible;
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic customer areas;
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19;
  • Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer stations, and ensure soap and hand drying materials are available at sinks;
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of employees before entering the workplace and immediately send symptomatic workers home;
  • Have a plan in place to immediately isolate an employee from work if symptoms develop; and
  • Post signage at the main entrances to remind people about Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, request people who are or have recently been symptomatic not to enter, and notify customers of the reduced store capacity.

Retail businesses are also strongly encouraged to:

  • Direct workers to stay at least six feet apart from one another and from customers, to the greatest extent possible;
  • Provide designated times for seniors and other high-risk populations to access services; and
  • Develop and use systems that allow for online, email, or telephone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.

High-volume retail businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are strongly encouraged to:

  • Install acrylic or plastic shields at cash registers;
  • Clearly mark designated entry and exit points; and
  • Provide assistance with routing through aisles in the store.

 

NCRMA Webinar on Navigating Phase 1 – This Thursday (5/7)

On Thursday, May 7th at 9:00 am, the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association will host a webinar on Planning for Next Steps.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted all retailers, customers, and employees.

Knowing that North Carolina retailers’ first priority is always the health and safety of our customers and employees, this webinar will help make sure everyone understands the requirements, the recommendations – and how to know the difference – as we prepare for the potential of restrictions being lifted.

Let NCRMA help you as you navigate this uncharted path.

We invite you to register at: https://bit.ly/NCRMA-NextSteps

When you register you will receive information on how to join the webinar in a couple of ways:

  1. You will be automatically directed to a confirmation page with a link you can copy and paste to take you to the webinar
  2. You will also receive an email confirmation with 2 options.
    • Click the “View Now” button at the top. It will direct you to the event page. (If you already have an Eventbrite account, it will ask you to log in). Once you are on the event page, click on the big NCRMA logo to go directly to the webinar,OR
    • Scroll to the bottom and under “Additional Information” there is an active link to join the meeting.

We recommend signing on to the webinar 5-10 minutes early to allow time to get connected and troubleshoot any problems.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact Ann Edmondson via call or text at 919-818-5806 or email at anne@ncrma.org.

UPDATE: May 4, 2020

$125M in Funding from Golden LEAF Foundation to Support NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program

Accepting Applications Now

As we reported earlier today, NC Governor Roy Cooper signed the COVID-19 response legislation, House Bill 1043 and Senate Bill 704. Here is a link to the press release sent by the Golden LEAF Foundation about the new $125 million loan program for small businesses. Businesses must have 100 or fewer full time equivalents per “establishment” and can borrow up to $50,000 at 5.5% rate for a term of up to 60 months with no required payments the first six months. This is a first come/first serve loan program.

Please go to https://ncrapidrecovery.org or to call Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) at 800-228-8443 for more information.

UPDATE: April 29, 2020

Wake County to Align with NC Stay-at-Home Order

Wake County announced this afternoon that they will allow their amended stay-at-home order issued on April 15 to expire tomorrow, April 30. Starting May 1, 11 of the county’s 12 municipalities and portions of Angier, Clayton and Durham that are located within Wake County, will follow Governor Cooper’s Stay-at-Home order, which remains in effect through May 8. The town of Apex has not yet announced their plans but may be issuing their own order.

This action by Wake County to align with the state order will effectively remove, beginning this Friday, May 1, the requirement for any retailer providing curbside or delivery to provide a mask and conduct health screenings and temperature checks for employees that regularly stand exposed within 6-feet of customers.

Gaston County Order
https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article242367401.html

Today, Gaston contradicted Governor Cooper’s statewide orders that are in effect until May 8 by announcing they would allow many businesses to reopen at 5 p.m. Wednesday. However, the statewide order legally remains in effect which states that the more restrictive guidelines prevail. A spokesman for Governor Cooper’s office also stated that the expansion will have no effect as the Governor’s orders remain in force through May 8.

Gaston County Commission Chair, Tracy Philbeck, held a Facebook live town hall at 4pm today and confirmed that the statewide order is still in effect. In confirming as much, Chairman Philbeck noted that though the statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect, Gaston County Commissioners support businesses reopening under the provisions of the statewide executive order that can practice the social distancing, sanitation and hygiene guidelines as set out in Executive Orders 121, 131 and 135.

Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg County will also not extend their stay-at-home order today and instead align themselves with the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Order including Executive Orders 121, 131 and 135. Mecklenburg will also specifically recognize some retail businesses that have not previously been recognized as essential as now being essential thereby allowing them to open.

These include:

  • Defense and military contractors that develop products, processes, equipment, technology, and related services that serve the United States military, national defense, and national security interests.
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology.
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers.
  • Book stores that sell educational material.
  • Religious facilities, entities, groups, gatherings, including funerals. Also, services, counseling, pastoral care, and other activities provided by religious organizations to the members of their faith community. Gatherings may not exceed 10 people.
  • Insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services.
  • Real estate services including brokerage, appraisal and title services.
  • Automobile dealers.

In addition to following the state guidelines, the order will also include guidance for retail businesses to take orders online or by phone and provide curbside pickup service.
https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Pages/County-Transitions-to-State-Order-as-Local-Stay-at-Home-Restrictions-Time-Out.aspx

Durham (County and City)

On April 24th, Durham County and the City of Durham extended their Stay-At-Home Order until May 15th and will now allow retailers that have previously been closed to utilize curbside pickup for their customers.

Employers are required to do basic health screenings at the beginning of each shift to include asking about coughing, shortness of breath and sore throat and to the extent possible to take the temperature of employees and send the employee home if the temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees.

https://durhamnc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/30402/Fourth-Amendment-to-Durham-County-Declaration-of-Emergency-4-24-20

UPDATE: April 28, 2020

Below are a number of updates on North Carolina’s food benefit programs.

P-EBT:
The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is still working to operationalize the Pandemic EBT program (P-EBT) and benefits will be issued later in May (details have not yet been finalized). This program will give over 840,000 school children EBT benefits of $5.70 per day that schools are closed to offset the cost of the free or reduced lunch they would have received at school. This will total over $216 million in statewide benefits with families receiving $257 in total P-EBT benefits per child, provided over two installments.

SNAP Emergency Allotments:
North Carolina has requested and received approval for emergency SNAP allotments for May. The state will roll out these benefits every day beginning May 22, after the regular SNAP benefits are issued (May 3-21). These emergency allotments bring SNAP households up to the national maximum allotment and represent an approximate increase of 40% to their normal household benefit. These benefits are added automatically and SNAP households do not have to apply for these additional benefits.

Online SNAP:
North Carolina has been approved to allow online SNAP. Interested retailers must follow this guidance and submit a letter of intent to USDA. The letter of intent should include your corporate store information, the point of contact, contact information for your corporation, and outline what your company has done to comply with steps 1-3 as outlined in the guidance document. USDA hosted a webinar for interested retailers last week and a copy of the slide deck can be found here.

As a reminder, you can currently offer SNAP customers the ability to order online for store pickup as long as they complete the payment with their PIN at the store.

Farmers to Families Food Box Purchase Program:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they will purchase up to $3 billion of agricultural products and partner with regional and local distributors to supply commodity boxes to non-profit organizations. USDA has published a Request for Proposal for organizations interested in participating in this program. That RFP and other applicable attachments are available HERE. USDA hosted a webinar about the food box purchase program which you can view here. Additional questions may be submitted to USDAFoodBoxDistributionProgram@usda.gov.

UPDATE: April 23, 2020

NC Stay-at-home Order Extended through Friday, May 8 at 5pm

Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference this afternoon to announce the extension of the current stay-at-home Executive Order 121 until May 8 at 5pm and also a 3-phase plan for reopening. Executive Order 121 that enacted stay-at-home requirements has been in place since March 30 and was originally scheduled to expire next Thursday, April 30. This order does not alter any provisions of the previous executive order other than technical changes.

Executive Order 135 (extending current stay-at-home order through May 8)

3-Phase Plan for Reopening

Evaluation Criteria: The Governor then announced a 3-phase plan to reopen if certain criteria are met. In evaluating the timing of reopening, the Governor and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen outlined the NC Evaluation Metrics for Reopening.

The evaluation criteria considers the following four metrics (outlined in the presentation linked above):

  • COVID-like syndromic cases over 14 days
  • Lab-confirmed cases over 14 days
  • Positive tests as a percentage of the total tests over 14 days
  • Hospitalizations over 14 days

The state will also be evaluating testing and tracing capacity as detailed in the presentation:

  • Tests completed per day
  • Ability to conduct widespread tracing
  • Supply of PPE

With positive trajectories in these evaluation criteria, the Governor announced a goal to reopen upon expiration of Executive Order 135 on May 8 under the following 3-phase plan:  

Phase 1 (Could begin upon the expiration of EO 135 on the evening of May 8 if above metrics are met):

  • Stay-at-home order remains in place, people can leave home for commercial activity (The Governor made mention of allowing additional businesses to open, like clothing, that were not previously deemed essential – NCRMA is seeking additional clarification and specifics as to the various types of businesses impacted.)
  • Those retailers and services will need to implement social distancing, cleaning and other protocols
  • Gatherings limited to no more than 10 people
  • Parks can open subject to gathering limits and social distancing
  • Face coverings recommended in public
  • Restrictions remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living settings
  • Encourage continued teleworking

Phase 2 (at least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1):

  • Lift stay-at-home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses that can follow strict safety protocols
  • Allow gathering at houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate care settings

Phase 3 (at least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2):

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate care settings

The Governor will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce plans for schools which are currently under executive order to remain closed through May 15.

NCRMA will continue to share more information regarding the 3-phase plan as it becomes available.

UPDATE: April 22, 2020

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, April 21) announcing a new Executive Order to provide unemployment insurance for furloughed workers (details below). The governor also indicated that further announcements would be coming later this week regarding the current stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to expire on April 30, and what orders will follow in addition to announcements about school closures that are currently in place through May 15.

New NC Executive Order 134

  • Yesterday, Governor Cooper issued a new Executive Order 134, allowing furloughed workers to be eligible for unemployment assistance. Previously, employees that were furloughed and received a severance package were deemed ineligible for state unemployment benefits. If furloughed individuals previously attempted to file for unemployment benefits and were denied benefits, they should now be allowed to file again without creating a completely new claim for benefits. The NC Division of Employment Security (DES) expects to have more information, including frequently asked questions, on this new order available today.

Federal Unemployment Insurance Update:

  • Individuals such as a Gig Economy employees, self-employed, independent contractors and freelancers are now eligible for federal unemployment insurance benefits of $600 per week under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) if they are out of work due to COVID-19. These individuals have not previously been eligible for State Unemployment Benefits but will be able to apply through the State Unemployment System. NC DES has said they expect to have the system ready to accept these claims beginning this Friday, April 24.

Local Order Updates:
bit.ly/NCRMA-LocalOrders

  • Winston-Salem is urging all citizens to wear facial coverings until May 31, 2020, and is attempting to provide a free facial covering to every citizen with the first 25,000 masks already being distributed.
  • Dare County: On April 21, 2020 Dare County issued a new Stay-At-Home order through May 22, 2020, effective immediately, that requires all individuals to wear a mask or cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). https://www.darenc.com/home/showdocument?id=6362
  • Durham County and City of Durham: Based on concerns raised in NCRMA’s comments, Durham County and the City of Durham have issued some guidance regarding their latest order:
    • It has been emphasized that temperature checks are required “to the extent possible.”  We have many businesses in Durham who are checking temperatures. At the same time, we understand that there is a shortage of thermometers, which is why we are not requiring temperature checks if it is impossible to conduct them.
    • With regards to store personnel not having to police the use of masks by customers: We agree with that. It is not our intention to have stores police this. We do hope that stores will do, as some stores have, make face coverings available to shoppers or customers. We strongly believe that, as many stores have done, all stores should be using signage and other means to encourage people to wear face coverings, and that they should have their employees wearing face coverings as well. While we singled out transit riders in the Order, we have made it abundantly clear many times—and I believe our public understands this—that we are looking for voluntary compliance with this Order. We know that not every customer will wear a face covering in a store. But we also know that our Order, since it was announced, has already increased the wearing of face coverings in our stores.

UPDATE: April 20, 2020

Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT)

Today North Carolina received approval for the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program to help more families purchase food during the COVID-19 pandemic. The P-EBT program provides a benefit on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children have access to free and reduced lunch at school.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working to operationalize the program and P-EBT recipients will receive this benefit in coming weeks. More than 843,504 children are expected to receive benefits through the P-EBT program.

Each child will receive benefits of $5.70 per day that schools are closed (March 16-May 15). This is a total of 44 school days (the state may be able to add Good Friday for a total of 45 days). Assuming the state adds Good Friday, the total benefit per school child is $256.50 for a statewide total of $216,358,776. The current plan is for the state to issue 34 of the 45 days’ worth of benefits in one allotment ($193.80 per child; $163,471,075 statewide) and the remaining 11 days in a second allotment ($62.70 per child; $52,887,700 statewide). The timeframe for these issuances is still to be determined, but we will keep you posted as soon as we know more.

P-EBT eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card. P-EBT eligible families not already enrolled in FNS will be mailed an EBT card in the next few weeks. Families who receive a new EBT card will receive a letter from DHHS in the mail explaining how to activate and use their card.

If school closures extend through the end of May and the state can count holidays, then the state would issue another 10 days’ worth of benefits.

Finally, North Carolina’s data is again available on the USDA FNS website. The latest data available is for January 2020, in which statewide monthly benefits under normal circumstances total $137,982,854. To put in perspective, the statewide P-EBT benefits will be 1.5 times as much as the normal household monthly benefit.

UPDATE: April 18, 2020

DURHAM CITY & COUNTY

Late yesterday afternoon (Friday, April 17), the Durham County and the City of Durham amended their Stay-At-Home Order effective Midnight on Monday, April 20, 2020 and running through April 30, 2020 (we are trying to determine if midnight means it’s effective tomorrow night or Monday night). We also think there is a good argument that these new requirements are preempted by Executive Order 131.

https://www.dconc.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=30844

The order has two major implications –

  1. It requires all businesses that are open to have their employees wear face coverings and all people that are going out in public to wear face coverings. Note that masks are not required.
    Wearing of Face Coverings – Members of the general public are required to wear a clean face covering any time they are or will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance. These spaces include grocery stores, pharmacies, business locations and public transit. While wearing the face covering, it is essential to still maintain social distance insofar as possible since social distancing is the best defense against the spread of the Coronavirus.
    While face coverings are required, no one will be removed from or denied entry to public transit for failure to wear a face covering. A face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. Acceptable, reusable face covering options for the general public include: bandannas, neck gaiters, homemade face coverings, scarves, or tightly woven fabric such as cotton t-shirts and some types of towels. It is not required to wear face coverings during individual exercise outdoors, or while walking or exercising with other people from the same household, as long as social distance from others is maintained.
  2. It requires employers to implement temperature checks to the extent possible – just like with Wake County we know many of you do not have access to proper thermometers to maintain social distancing. You may want to ask employees to check their temperature at home and confirm to you that they did not have a temperature of over 100.4 Fahrenheit. 

Durham Temperature Check Language: To the extent possible, the performance of temperature checks by employers of their employees when they report to work, and a mandate that any employee with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit must be sent home.

WAKE COUNTY

Just a quick update on the Wake County Proclamation issued Thursday that also requires face coverings and temperature checks for essential retailers providing curbside or delivery – https://covid19.wakegov.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/First-Amendment-to-Proclamation-of-Emergency-Restrictions.pdf   SATURDAY 4/18 UPDATE ON TEMPERATURE CHECKS BELOW THIS SUMMARY

  1. We talked with the Governor’s Office as well as some Raleigh officials about all of the concerns with the new Wake County Proclamation if a business provided curbside or delivery of goods.I emphasized to them that I was concerned that if every retailer allowing for curbside or delivery in Wake County has to provide a mask and take the temperature of every employee in their store then 1) we will see a dramatic shortage in masks 2) see retailers who were donating thousands of masks to the health systems instead use these masks for their employees and 3) potentially see retailers who were providing curbside and delivery services (which everyone has been encouraging) halt this service because of the inability to comply with the requirements which forces more people physically into the stores for things like groceries. Additionally, we think that these new social distancing requirements may be preempted by Executive Order 131.
  2. We then talked again yesterday afternoon with the Wake County Emergency Operations officials. I explained again to them the unintended consequences of what they were doing and that I would be better off just halting curbside or delivery and therefore the temperature and face covering requirements would not apply. They emphasized that they did not anticipate heavy enforcement at this time and I explained to them that our members are doing the best they can to follow the law so just saying that they are not going to enforce it does not provide much comfort. The Wake County officials also said that for the face coverings that they were only required where employees would regularly be standing within six feet of other employees or customers without protection (like a plexiglass shield) with the example of a grocery deli being given. I also explained that the thermometers are not readily available which they did not seem to be aware of and that taking someone’s temperature would force an employee to be within six feet of other employees. They were taking my comments back to the elected officials over the weekend and late yesterday evening I received an email that they would have an update for me on Monday.

At this stage, I would say to do the best you can and if you are going to continue to offer curbside or delivery I would recommend:

  1. Identifying employees that may be forced to stand within six feet of another employee or customer for any period of time and require a face covering – i.e. deli workers, your butchers, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, employees unloading trucks together.
  2. On temperature checks and health screenings, if you are unable to take an employees’ temperature send them an email and ask that they take their temperature before they leave home and come to work and when they report to work confirm to their supervisor that they did not have a temperature, feel OK and have no symptoms of COVID.

UPDATE ON REQUIRED TEMPERATURE CHECKS

Today, Saturday, April 18th, we received the following communication from the Liaison Officer for Wake County:

After listening to your concerns, the Board of Commissioners has agreed to make the following change to the proclamation amendment. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and your continued partnership.

d)  Employers shall arrange for basic health screenings at the beginning of every employee’s shift, which shall include a:
i)  Discussion about any shortness of breath, coughing, or sore throat; and
ii)  Discussion about any respiratory issues.

Employers are strongly encouraged, to the extent they are able, to also take the temperature of each employee.  If an employee is exhibiting any of the above listed symptoms or has a temperature above 100.4 degrees, the employer should provide the employee with a face mask and require them to leave the workplace.  Any employee with COVID-19 symptoms should be encouraged to call their primary care provider or the local health department.

UPDATE: April 17, 2020

RISE Up Training

The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association (NCRMA) is proud to partner with the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation to offer RISE Up training for retail employees and students. This retail-specific training helps retail workers build foundational skills that are needed to secure critical retail jobs right now. This would be a great way to enhance the skills of any furloughed employees before they come back to work.

The Retail Industry Fundamentals course is available for no charge through June 12. This course is self-paced and can be completed online in approximately five to seven hours and covers basic customer service and math skills, along with best practices for interviewing for jobs. No special software is required – only a web browser. Once your employees have completed all three lessons and passes all three exams, they will have earned the RISE Up Retail Industry Fundamentals credential.

Organizations can also purchase the two advanced, online training courses– Customer Service and Sales and Business of Retail: Operations and Profit – at a 50 percent discount. Click here for an overview of all three credential programs. Page 3 has the regular (“pre-Covid”) prices and a la carte options – current prices are as follows:

Organizations that want to offer the training to their employees, clients and students can learn more here. Visit https://nrffoundation.org/riseup to get started or email NRF at RISEUp@nrf.com.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

SBA UPDATE: April 15, 2020

UPDATED PPP AND EIDL INFORMATION

Paycheck Protection Program Updates

As of Monday, over $5.7 billion dollars in loans were approved for almost 24,000 North Carolina businesses.

New Guidance Issued

Interim Final Rule – Additional Eligibility Criteria and Requirements for Certain Pledges of Loans

Frequently Asked Questions

New PPP Lenders

SBA has authorized the following FinTech Companies to offer PPP loans:

Paypal – (Current PayPal Merchants Only)               Intuit(Current QuickBooks Clients Only)

Square(Current Square Merchants, but may be open to future customers)

Cabbage                OnDeck                 Funding Circle                  Blue Vine Capital

Note: Please also check to see if your current financial institution is accepting applications. Additional PPP lenders can be found here.

More FAQs

The South Carolina District Office of the SBA also prepared a list of frequently asked questions in relation to the PPP and EIDL Programs: FAQs

If you are waiting on a response to your EIDL Application, please continue to monitor your email for additional correspondence from SBA. Wait times for an initial response from SBA are approximately 2-3 weeks. Questions on your EIDL loan can be directed to the Disaster Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

UPDATE: April 13, 2020

NC Fire Marshal Releases Guidance on Executive Order 131
NCRMA reached out to the Office of the State Fire Marshal within the NC Department of Insurance this morning to relay the experiences retailers were having across the state with local fire officials interpreting the maximum occupancy requirements differently that set out in Executive Order 131 and the Frequently Asked Questions document.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal held a meeting this afternoon and has issued the following guidance to their code officials and fire chiefs:

  • Executive Order No. 131 was issued by the Governor and it supersedes the code.
  • It is the responsibility of the retail location to produce and post the EMO. Code officials can assist if contacted.
  • Only law enforcement can enforce the Order.
  • The calculated EMO is for customers only and does not include employees or delivery personnel.
  • The total building square footage, including non-customer portions should be used for the calculation.
  • The Order becomes effective at 5:00 PM today.

Click here for a copy of the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s memo.

Also, note the below questions and answers from the Governor’s Frequently Asked Questions for reference should you have a local law enforcement or Fire Marshal’s inquire:

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, including customers but not employees, 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, including all retail- and non-retail space.

Who will enforce the Order? The Governor expects retail establishments will comply with the Order to ensure the safety of their employees and customers and believes that most of them will. If necessary, the Order will be enforced by local law enforcement.

Does this executive order preempt similar orders put in place by local jurisdictions? Where local emergency prohibitions or restrictions directly contradict the Order in regard to maximum occupancy requirements, social distancing markings, and cleaning and disinfection, the Executive Order amends any requirements or restrictions imposed by local emergency declarations by amending any language that directly conflicts with this Section (Section 1, A-C) of the Executive Order. For these three areas specifically, the Order creates a statewide standard for retail establishments. Local emergency prohibitions or restrictions that regulate other aspects of retail establishments are not affected by this Order.

Signage: Executive Order 131 requires all operating retail establishments to post a sign in a conspicuous place stating the “Emergency Maximum Occupancy.” NCRMA has created a sign you can use in your business to satisfy the requirement.

LINK HERE for a form fill sign to type in your EMO before you print
LINK HERE to simply print and write in your EMO

Executive Order 131 Requirements and Recommendations

Retail Establishment Requirements:
Effective at 5:00 pm today and for thirty days, Section 1 of Executive Order 131 requires the following of retail establishments:

  1. Implements an Emergency Maximum Occupancy for all retailers of no more than:(a)  Twenty Percent (20%) of the stated fire capacity; OR
    (b)  Five (5) customers for every one thousand (1000) square fee of the retail location’s total square footage – including non-customer facing portions (note this applies to customers not employees)
  2. If you expect to exceed that amount you should post staff at store entrances and exits to enforce the Emergency Maximum Limit
  3. You must post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a conspicuous place
  4. Clearly mark 6 feet distances in lines at cash registers and in other high traffic areas like deli counters and high-volume products
  5. If you are expected to reach Emergency Management Occupancy you must clearly mark six feet of spacing in a designated line outside your store
  6. Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with a disinfectant approved by the EPA for SARS-CoV-2.
  7. Local items for any of items 1-6 are Preempted by this Order

There are additional steps in Section 2 that are recommended policies for retail establishments:

  1. Due to availability provide face coverings for employees whose positions do not allow them to maintain a six-foot distance from other employees or customers
  2. Tell employees to stay home if sick
  3. Mark six feet spacing in high traffic areas of staff-only positions
  4. Provide hand sanitizers and EPA approved wipes and sprays for shopping carts and baskets
  5. Wash hands or sanitize hands between interactions with customers and employees
  6. Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other at-risk groups as defined by the CDC
  7. Post signs about required social distancing of six feet
  8. Encourage on-line ordering and curbside and delivery
  9. For high-volume retail establishments such as grocery stores and pharmacies
    1.  Use acrylic or plastic shields
    2.  Clearly mark designated entry and exit points
    3. Provide Assistance through Aisles in the stores

UPDATE: April 13, 2020

Below is a link to the revised Frequently Asked Questions document from the Governor’s office on Executive Order 131 that is effective at 5pm today. Note the clarification that the maximum occupancy restrictions apply to customers but not employees.

Executive Order 131: https://bit.ly/NCEO131

Updated FAQ: https://bit.ly/NCEO131-UpdatedFAQs

Also, note the below questions and answers from the document for reference should you have a local law enforcement or Fire Marshall’s inquire:

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, including customers but not employees, 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, including all retail- and non-retail space. 

Who will enforce the Order? The Governor expects retail establishments will comply with the Order to ensure the safety of their employees and customers and believes that most of them will. If necessary, the Order will be enforced by local law enforcement.

Does this executive order preempt similar orders put in place by local jurisdictions? Where local emergency prohibitions or restrictions directly contradict the Order in regard to maximum occupancy requirements, social distancing markings, and cleaning and disinfection, the Executive Order amends any requirements or restrictions imposed by local emergency declarations by amending any language that directly conflicts with this Section (Section 1, A-C) of the Executive Order. For these three areas specifically, the Order creates a statewide standard for retail establishments. Local emergency prohibitions or restrictions that regulate other aspects of retail establishments are not affected by this Order.

Signage: Executive Order 131 requires all operating retail establishments to post a sign in a conspicuous place stating the “Emergency Maximum Occupancy.” NCRMA has created a sign you can use in your business to satisfy the requirement.

LINK HERE for a form fill sign to type in your EMO before you print
LINK HERE to simply print and write in your EMO

New Hanover County Order Alignment

NCRMA is pleased to report that at 1:00 pm EST today (Monday 4/13), New Hanover County, which includes the City of Wilmington, announced that the County would be revising their order so that stores providing essential goods will no longer be asked to close off sections that are deemed non-essential. As a result, all aisles of essential retailers can be open if they so choose, but dressing rooms should remain closed.

Of particular note in the revised order:

  • Stores providing essential goods will no longer be asked to close off sections that are deemed non-essential. All aisles of essential retailers can be open if they so choose, but dressing rooms should remain closed.
  • “Safety, security, clothing and communication” have been added to the list of essential retail that can be open (the overall list now includes goods needed for health, sustenance, shelter, safety, security, communication, mobility, clothing and hygiene).
  • Auto dealerships, boat dealerships and other motor vehicle sales points are allowed to operate but must comply with an 11-point safety test that will be shared as part of the final, signed declaration.

Revised New Hanover County Order:

https://news.nhcgov.com/news-releases/2020/04/stayathomeorderextended/

UPDATE: April 10, 2020

Executive Order 131, which was issued yesterday by Governor Roy Cooper and goes into effect Monday, April 13 at 5:00 p.m., requires all operating retail establishments to post a sign in a conspicuous place stating the “Emergency Maximum Occupancy.”

The Emergency Maximum Occupancy (EMO) for all retailers is determined as no more than:
(a)  Twenty Percent (20%) of the stated fire capacity; OR
(b)  Five (5) customers for every one thousand (1000) square feet of the retail location’s total square footage – including non-customer facing portions (note this applies to customers not employees)

We have created a sign you can use in your business to satisfy the requirement.

LINK HERE for a form fill sign to type in your EMO before you print

LINK HERE to simply print and write in your EMO

Also, a recommendation included in Executive Order 131 is the designation of exclusive shopping times for seniors and other at-risk groups s defined by the CDC. We have created a document to compile the designated times for businesses that we can post on our website and also share through social media. Please review the link below.

NCRMA Special Shopping Hours Tracking- https://bit.ly/NCRMA-SrHrs

If you have been included on the list but the information is wrong, or if you are not included on the list and have designated shopping hours for seniors and other at-risk customers, please email Ann Edmondson at anne@ncrma.org.

UPDATE: April 9, 2020

Governor Cooper just issued Executive Order 131 placing restrictions on the allowable occupancies in retail stores effective Monday, April 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm. NCRMA has been in constant conversations with the Governor’s Office to develop a reasonable statewide approach that protects the health of customers and employees while allowing retailers, deemed as essential by Governor Cooper’s previous Executive Order 121, to continue to operate responsibly.

Executive Order 131
Executive Order 131 – FAQs

Retail Establishments –

Effective Monday, April 13, 2020 at 5:00 pm and for thirty days, Section 1 of Executive Order 131 requires the following of retail establishments:

  1. Implements an Emergency Maximum Occupancy for all retailers of no more than:
    (a)  Twenty Percent (20%) of the stated fire capacity; OR
    (b)  Five (5) customers for every one thousand (1000) square fee of the retail location’s total square footage – including non-customer facing portions (note this applies to customers not employees)
  2. If you expect to exceed that amount you should post staff at store entrances and exits to enforce the Emergency Maximum Limit
    You must post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a conspicuous place
  3. Clearly mark 6 feet distances in lines at cash registers and in other high traffic areas like deli counters and high-volume products
  4. If you are expected to reach Emergency Management Occupancy you must clearly mark six feet of spacing in a designated line outside your store
  5. Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with a disinfectant approved by the EPA for SARS-CoV-2
  6. Any Local Orders covering items 1-5 are Preempted by this Order

There are additional steps in Section 2 that are recommended policies for retail establishments:

  1. Due to availability provide face coverings for employees whose positions do not allow them to maintain a six foot distance from other employees or customers
  2. Tell employees to stay home if sick
  3. Mark six feet spacing in high traffic areas of staff-only positions
  4. Provide hand sanitizers and EPA approved wipes and sprays for shopping carts and baskets
  5. Wash hands or sanitize hands between interactions with customers and employees
  6. Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other at-risk groups as defined by the CDC
  7. Post signs about required social distancing of six feet
  8. Encourage on-line ordering and curbside and delivery
  9. For high-volume retail establishments such as grocery stores and pharmacies
    (a)  Use acrylic or plastic shields
    (b)  Clearly mark designated entry and exit points
    (c)  Provide Assistance through Aisles in the stores

We are still reviewing all the details, so there may be more to come.

Unemployment Insurance –

Allows for the use of Attached Claims allowing Employers to file for their employees with batch claims (more to come on this)

UPDATE: April 8, 2020

Financial assistance is now available to help essential workers afford childcare during the COVID-19 crisis. (Essential workers are outlined in Executive Order 121.) This assistance is available for at least April and May and may be extended.

Parents must complete the COVID-19 Parent Application for Financial Assistance for Emergency Child Care and submit it to their child care provider. Financial aid is available to parents and caregivers who are essential workers and who meet the following criteria:

  • Their income is below 300 percent of the poverty line (dependent upon household size; chart found here);
  • They are an essential worker fighting COVID-19 or protecting the health and safety of communities (i.e. workers in essential businesses such as grocery, pharmacy, restaurant carry-out, warehouse workers, truck drivers, etc.); and
  • They feel they have no other viable child care options available to them.

Additionally, if essential workers need help finding child care programs that meet health, safety, and operational guidelines, a hotline is available 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. Parents and caregivers should call (888) 600-1685 for help finding available programs.

For additional information, please visit the NC DHHS website or let us know if you have any questions.

UPDATE: April 8, 2020

NCRMA appreciates members bringing regulatory challenges to our attention. One such request came yesterday related to a challenge in keeping up with the demand for shell eggs and needing to meet labeling requirements in North Carolina (N.C. Gen. Stat. §106-245.18) when packaging with that information may be scarce.

In an effort to help retailers with this, the FDA relaxed the federal labeling requirements for eggs. NCRMA made a request late yesterday of the NC Department of Agriculture for a state waiver in that regard. This afternoon, the NC Department of Agriculture issued the following waiver for packages of eggs which allows for that information to instead be included on a placard at the point of sale.

NC Department Of Agriculture Egg Packaging Label Waiver 

Due to significantly increased consumer demand for shell eggs and in light of the FDA temporary policy regarding packaging and labeling of shell eggs sold by retail food establishments during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services will likewise waive our current statutory requirements for labeling of packages of eggs sold at retail.

This waiver shall apply only to eggs sourced from a graded and inspected facility and must be identified at the point of sale by a placard that contains the following information. The eggs can be sold in single use cartons or flats.

The placard shall contain the following information:

  • Name of Product: “Eggs”
  • Applicable consumer Grade
  • Applicable size or weight class
  • Numerical count of contents
  • Name and address of packer or distributor
  • Safe handling instructions as indicated below:
    • SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

If you have any questions regarding this waiver, feel free to reach out to us. Also, if there are other regulatory obstacles, such as this, where NCRMA may be able to assist, please make us aware.

UPDATE: April 7, 2020

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order went into effect Monday, March 30 and remains in effect for 30 days. Executive Order 121 does not preempt local orders therefore where a local order is more restrictive, the local order prevails and where the statewide order is more restrictive, the statewide order prevails. As a result, NCRMA is continuing to see an uptick of local orders issued since EO 121 was announced.

NCRMA continues to track these orders and update with new information as it becomes available and as we have conversations with many of these Counties and Cities. Please save the below link to your bookmarks as the tracking document is now in a new, easier-to-read format.

New Bookmark! NCRMA Local Order Tracking: bit.ly/NCRMA-LocalOrders

In addition to the many local orders included in the tracking document, we want to call particular attention to three local orders that have garnered much of our attention over the weekend and as this week began. If you have stores in Wilmington, Durham or Reidsville, please be sure to note the summaries below.

Local Order Updates of Note:

New Hanover County

New Hanover County Order

New Hanover County FAQ (including essential v nonessential businesses)

Wilmington, NC FAQ

Section 7 of the New Hanover County order reads “Any store, mall, or retail facility that does provide essential goods as set forth above, shall close to the public any portion of its facility that is dedicated to non-essential goods that is reasonably capable of so closing.”

Over the weekend, NCRMA received reports that at least two retailers were given warnings that even though they were essential retailers they were selling non-essential items within their stores and that they would be cited if they continued to sell these non-essential items. Additionally, a furniture/appliance store was cited for continuing to sell furniture which was deemed non-essential as compared to appliances which were essential.

NCRMA had a very frustrating call with the Deputy City Attorney and an aide to the Mayor of Wilmington who would not waiver in their stance that retailers need to rope off or restrict access to certain items they deem not essential and therefore cannot be sold. It was also suggested that retailers could rearrange their store aisles or instead put non-essential items in storage in the back of the stores. Depending on the store configuration, a sign to the effect that you are prohibited to sell those items by the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County may suffice.

NCRMA brought up fire code and ADA compliance issues and were told that neither of those were issues pursuant to the local fire marshal. In relaying the concern of putting retail employees that are in customer-facing roles in difficult positions, NCRMA was told that the City is not expecting a retail clerk to get in an argument with a customer about the purchase of a non-essential item.

In the City’s eyes if the retailer is selling items that are not related to food or drink, hygiene, sustenance, sanitation or mobility then it cannot be sold and retailers should restrict customer access to those products. A few additional items of note:

  • The City did say that electronics may be sold because they are related to mobility and working from home – this includes cell phones and computer equipment and televisions. These are considered essential for mobility and telecommunication under the Governor’s order and the local orders. However, non-essential electronics, such as video games, DVD’s, music, etc., should be roped off and made unavailable to the public during this time.
  • Landscaping material may also continue to be sold as landscaping is an essential business.
  • Also, books, clothing, toys, sporting goods, decorative items and furniture may not be sold. We were told that if a customer wanted those items they should order on-line for delivery to their home or purchase those items for curbside pick-up. The reasoning relayed is that it will reduce in-store time by customers. NCRMA expressed concern for the population that does not have a credit card to order on-line or for curbside pick-up but they didn’t believe that argument had credibility.
  • As of Monday 4/6, Wilmington has decided to allow fabric and sewing equipment to be sold since those items could be used to construct CDC related masks.

Our advice to you is to do the very best you can to restrict access to non-essential items which may include a sign stating that those items are off limits, and/or use tape or rope or some other method demonstrating that the City and County have restricted you from selling these items.

City of Durham

Stay-at-Home Order and FAQs

Over the weekend, the City of Durham and Durham County combined their stay-at-home order. The City of Durham then took the stance that breweries, wine shops and bottle shops could no longer operate. NCRMA began working with the Brewer’s Guild and the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association on this issue especially in light of the fact that beverage retailers are deemed essential in accordance with the Homeland Security Department Critical Infrastructure and Security (CISA) determination.

Under the Food and Agriculture section of CISA the following are deemed essential “Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other retail (including unattended and vending) that sells human food, animal/pet food and pet supply, and beverage products, including retail customer support service and information technology support staff necessary for online orders, pickup and delivery.”

This morning the City of Durham decided to reverse themselves to allow breweries, wine shops and bottle shops to continue to operate but are requiring these businesses to only operate via curbside pickup or delivery which continues to not be aligned with CISA. NCRMA has been asked to receive sanitation and safety plans on how wine and bottle shops are protecting their customers and their employees which will be submitted to the City. We are in the process of getting confirmation if these safety plans are due by this Thursday or next Thursday.

Reidsville (Rockingham County)

City of Reidsville Proclamation
Effective Monday 4/6 at 7pm

As you saw in our communications yesterday, a complicated local order came Friday evening from the City of Reidsville in Rockingham County, NC.  The order went into effect, Monday, April 6th at 7:00pm EST. NCRMA spoke with the City of Reidsville twice to relay our concerns over the restrictive and unique nature of the requirements and also to get clarification on maximum occupancy calculations included in the order.

In addition to several new requirements for businesses is a new complex calculation for maximum store occupancy for businesses greater than 10,000 total square feet. Note that this calculation may vary for each individual company as it begins with total square footage, so even within the same company it may vary between locations.

Reidsville, NC Maximum Occupancy Calculation:

Total Square Footage x .25 / 113.04 = Total Maximum Occupancy (including employees)
Example: Store with 100,000 total square feet x .25 = 25,000 / 113.04 = 221.16 total occupancy (including employees)

Signage Requirement: Reidsville then requires that you post an 8.5” x 11’” sign that state the maximum occupancy number in 6” Font – NCRMA has developed a sign for this purpose if you choose to use this template.

NCRMA Reidsville Maximum Occupancy Sign

Additional Requirements: The Reidsville orders requires essential businesses to comply with all of the following measures:

  • Designate six-foot distances: Designating with visible signage at entryways along with tape or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance. This includes lines formed outside of entryways to the businesses and operations on private or public property designated a pedestrian area.
  • Sanitizing products: Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers along with regularly cleaning carts, baskets or shopping collection items made available for use by the public. (NCRMA clarified that due to the lack of sanitizers in ready-supply having soap available in restroom(s) accessible by employees and the public complies.)
  • Separate Operating Hours: Implementing separate operating hours for elderly customers age 65+ and vulnerable customers.
  • Online and Remote Access: Posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone, remotely or curbside pickup where possible.
  • Maximum allowance of individuals within the business at any point in time when total square footage is at or over 10,000 total square feet
    Total Square Footage x .25 / 113.04 = Total Occupancy (including employees)
    Example: Store with 100,000 total square feet x .25 = 25,000 / 113.04 = 221.16 total occupancy (including employees)
  • Signage: All businesses must install or post at the store entry an 8.5” x 11” sign in 6-inch letters stating the maximum number of allowed persons in the business based on the calculation above.
  • Count/Compliance: Businesses that are allowed to have more than 50 persons will have to keep an ongoing count to ensure compliance.

NCRMA communicated to the City of Reidsville the importance of educating businesses about these new guidelines as opposed to taking an enforcement approach. Even more worrisome to NCRMA is that Reidsville indicated several other municipalities have reached out to them following the passage of their proclamation with interest in enacting something similar.

NCRMA has again communicated the concerns around tracking and complying with this patchwork of local orders to the Governor’s office along with the Counties, Cities, Emergency Management and local law enforcement.

Again, we will continue tracking these local orders. If you are having issues in localities, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

SBA UPDATE: April 1, 2020

ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

 Under this program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

 Program details:

  • For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
  • The application for borrowers can be found HERE

If you are interested in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, please contact your financial institution to see if they are an SBA lender, or would like to become one.

We will be hosting a webinar on Friday, April 3rd at 10:00 am to discuss this and other programs available to help small businesses. Link to our webinar information at: ncrma.org/webinars/

FFRCA UPDATE: April 1, 2020

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA) becomes effective April 1, 2020 and runs through December 31, 2020.

The FFCRA and requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide:

  1. up to two weeks (80 hours for full-time employees or two weeks equivalent for a part-time employee) for certain COVID-19 related absences, and
  2. up to an additional ten (10) weeks of paid Family Medical Leave Act leave to care for a child who is out of school due to COVID-19.

As a covered employer you must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on your premises like you do with your labor notices and posters. If you have employees working remotely you can satisfy the posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to your employees or by posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. As of today, you are not required to post this sign in multiple languages.

________________

FFRCA Response Act Questions and Answers: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Link to the required poster here: https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/WHD/posters/FFCRA_Poster_WH1422_Non-Federal.pdf

FAQs regarding the poster/notice from the Department of Labor: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-poster-questions

In addition, NCRMA has created a Summary of FMLA, UI and SBA info that can be accessed here: https://www.ncrma.org/ui-sick-leave-fmla-and-sba-3/

UPDATE: March 31, 2020

NCRMA President addresses NC House Committee:

Today, NCRMA President Andy Ellen presented to the North Carolina House of Representatives Select COVID-19 Economic Support Committee to explain the challenges facing the retail sector in the current environment.  NCRMA has heard from many of you over the last three weeks as we all navigate this ever-changing landscape. It is those conversations, questions and challenges that were top of mind in addressing the committee and providing some tangible requests to relieve some pressure, including:

  • Explaining the economic hardships and difficult decisions many are facing right now regarding the health and safety of their employees, their customers and their business
  • Navigating the complexities of the various federal and state relief efforts to determine how they overlay and impact their workforce
  • Providing statewide consistency rather than a patchwork of various local orders
  • On unemployment insurance (UI): allowing employers to file attached claims for COVID-19-related unemployment; waiving the next UI premium tax to allow employers to recover some of the nearly $4 billion paid in; and, allowing self-employed, member-managers of LLCs or owners of S-corporations eligibility for unemployment benefits
  • Passing legislation to waive interest on late tax payments (the state has already waived penalties but is statutorily prohibited from waiting interest)
  • Reinstating a sales tax collection allowance
  • Allowing JDIG or One NC grants to be used in rural areas for small businesses
  • Considering grants for coverage of employee health benefits to alleviate another fixed cost straining employers

Price Gouging (NCRMA How to Comply): Attorney General Josh Stein announced in a press conference this afternoon that his office has received 755 price gouging complaints that his office is investigating every single complaint. In the event your company receives a complaint from the Attorney General’s Office and we can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact us. As a reminder, a State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s Price Gouging law – see the link included to NCRMA’s compliance guide.

Alcohol Sales to Continue: Over the past two days, NCRMA has received numerous calls, texts and emails asking about social media posts making false claims Governor Cooper would be terminating alcohol sales on Friday of this week. There are similar fake social media posts being circulated throughout the country. We have checked in Governor Cooper’s Office and these rumors of alcohol sales being terminated on Friday are 100% inaccurate.

Stay-at-Home Orders and Curfews

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order is now in effect as of 5pm yesterday (Monday, 3/30) and will be in effect for 30 days. Executive Order 121 does not preempt local orders therefore where a local order is more restrictive, the local order prevails and where the statewide order is more restrictive, the statewide order prevails. As a result, we have continued to see local orders issued since EO 121 was announced. NCRMA continues to track these order at the link below.

NCRMA Local Order Tracker: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

Two local orders of note this week:

City of Fayetteville: Fayetteville announced a stay-at-home order this afternoon that includes a curfew that will become effective tomorrow, Wednesday 4/1. The curfew is from 9:00pm – 6:00am but does not require a broad definition of essential businesses to close. Essential business is defined as all businesses that sell, manufacture, support or supply food, medicine or other essential household goods in addition to other detailed categories. Under the curfew, individuals are not allowed to leave their residence except for the outlined exemptions. The mass gathering provision in the order restricts any public gathering outside the home of any number of people.

Columbus County: Columbus county amended their state of emergency to enact a curfew between 10:00pm – 5:00am. Exceptions include travel to and from work. Therefore, businesses must be closed to the public but employees are allowed travel to and from businesses for cleaning, restocking, etc. that occurs after normal business hours. The order also further limits essential businesses by requiring closures of hotels, motels, campgrounds, boat ramps, golf courses, sports facilities, and playgrounds.

New Executive Orders: Governor Cooper has also issued two new Executive Orders in the last 24 hours focused on reducing barriers for state and local governments to access surplus property and to relieve utility payment burdens for residential customers.

  • Executive Order 122 issued last evening 3/30, eases regulations on the disposition of state surplus property to help schools and local governments access state surplus property to help bridge gaps during the response to COVID-19. The Order also provides for the transfer or donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) that state government may have and not need.
  • Executive Order 123 issued this afternoon 3/31 for residential customers, barring utility companies from disconnecting people who are unable to pay for 60 days. The order covers electric, gas, water and wastewater service. The order gives customers six months to pay bills, stops companies from adding late fees and interest to bills that aren’t paid, and encourages phone, cable and internet companies to follow suit.

WIC Update: In an effort to temporarily expand the WIC approved food product list in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the North Carolina WIC Program is requesting that manufacturers, distributors and retailers submit UPCs for whole wheat or whole grain bread up to 24 ounces.  The bread must meet existing criteria for approval and the UPC(s) must be submitted following the process outlined on our website under eWIC for Vendors, at https://www.nutritionnc.com/ewic/index.htm. Bread products submitted for consideration will be quickly evaluated and added to the APL if all requirements, with the exception of the size limitation, are met.

SBA UPDATE: March 31, 2020

NEW MESSAGE FROM THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION:

We know you are facing challenging times in this current health crisis. The U.S. Small Business Administration is committed to help bring relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which provided additional assistance for small business owners and non-profits, including the opportunity to get up to a $10,000 Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This Advance may be available even if your EIDL application was declined or is still pending, and will be forgiven.

If you wish to apply for the Advance on your EIDL, please visit www.SBA.gov/Disaster as soon as possible to fill out a new, streamlined application. In order to qualify for the Advance, you need to submit this new application even if you previously submitted an EIDL application. Applying for the Advance will not impact the status or slow your existing application.

UPDATE: March 30, 2020

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order is effective today at 5pm today (Monday, March 30) and will be in effect for 30 days. Executive Order 121 does not preempt local orders therefore where a local order is more restrictive, the local order prevails and where the statewide order is more restrictive, the statewide order prevails.

As noted in the Governor’s frequently asked questions document, any employee for a business deemed to be “essential” is not required to have a pass. However, we have received questions from NCRMA members inquiring as to the best way for their employees to identify themselves as being part of the essential workforce as many may not have business cards or other identifying information for their employer. For this reason, both out of an abundance of caution and to provide reassurance to your employees, NCRMA has developed two templates for letters that you can use for your employees to have on-hand. One letter references exceptions provided under the statewide order and another letter referencing exceptions provided under a local order if that applies to your business.

In the statewide order, the definition of essential business is much broader than some local orders and includes the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Critical Infrastructure list in the exceptions for essential businesses that are allowed to continue operations during the stay-at-home order as well as a number of more general retailers, and a list of some specific retail trades. Many localities have also included the CISA list by reference, but not all. Under the statewide Executive Order 121, non-essential businesses must close except for Minimum Basics Operations (Section 2A) and Essential businesses should meet social distancing requirements (Section 2C). If a business is excluded from the list of Essential Businesses, they may petition the NC Department of Revenue here.

Statewide Order for Essential Business

Local Order for Essential Business

(Local Orders that are more restrictive take precedent over the statewide order)

UPDATE: March 27, 2020

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a statewide stay-at-home order. We are still combing through all the details of this order but in the interest of getting this to you as quickly as possible, please see the bullet points below as well as a link to the full executive order as well as a “Frequently Asked Questions” document for the order.

  • The definition of essential business is much broader than some local orders and includes CISA Essential Infrastructure Workers, a number of more general retailers, and a list of some specific retail trades
  • EO 121 does not preempt local orders. NCRMA and others in the business community repeatedly requested preemption, even as late as this morning, but there were questions around whether the governor has the statutory authority to preempt the local orders.
  • No passes will be required for employees of essential businesses
  • Begins March 30th  and runs for 30 days
  • Non-essential businesses must close except for Minimum Basics Operations (Section 2A)
  • Essential businesses should meet social distancing requirements (Section 2C)


Businesses deemed essential include:

  • Businesses operating in Critical Infrastructure Sectors (CISA) identified sectors (Section 2(c)(2))
  • Groceries, pharmacies, Convenience stores and other establishments that sell food or beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) (Section 2(c)(7)
  • Food and beverage production (Section 2(c)(8)
  • Gas stations , auto-repair and farm equipment (Section 2(c)(12))
  • Home Improvement, hardware and supply stores (Section 2(c)(14)
  • Business that deliver to end-users (Section 2(c)
  • Restaurants for off-premises consumption (Section 2(c)(19)
  • Supplies to work from home (Section 2(c)(20))
  • Supply Chain (Section 2(c)(26))
  • Additional retailers (Section 2(c)(30)
  •      Electronic retailers like cell phones
  •      Lawn and garden equipment retailers
  •      Book stores selling educational materials
  •      Beer, wine and liquor
  •      Retail functions of convenience stores
  •      Retail within a healthcare facility
  •      Pet and feed stores

Social Distancing Means:

  • Maintaining six feet from others
  • Washing hands for 20 seconds or the use of hand sanitizer
  • Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
  • Facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible

If a business is excluded from the list of Essential Businesses, they may petition the NC Department of Revenue.

Executive Order 121 – NC Statewide Stay-at-Home Order
EO 121 Frequently Asked Questions


Local Orders:

As noted above, the statewide order will not pre-empt local orders, thus we will continue to provide the local orders below for reference. Each local proclamation provides exceptions for essential services that are enumerated in each order.

Many, including the statewide order, have included the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Critical Infrastructure list in the exceptions for essential businesses that are allowed to continue operations during the stay-at-home order. As this is an expansive list, we are including the link below for reference.

DHS CISA Essential Services List (for reference)

NCRMA Local Tracker: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19


Newly announced local orders since yesterday:

Previously announced local stay-at-home orders:

Wake County (+ all cities/towns including Raleigh and Cary) – 3/27 – 4/16

UPDATE: March 24, 2020

Local Orders More Restrictive than the State Executive Order: NCRMA is continuing to track local activity for your operations. Despite the many requests with the NC County Commissioners Association, NC League of Municipalities and various other entities for a statewide approach – many localities are beginning to enact their own shelter in place orders. Making this more difficult to track is that these are not being aggregated at the state level through WebEOC so if you hear of a local declaration, please share that information so that we can pass it along and add to our own tracking list.

Mecklenburg County: Today, Mecklenburg County in conjunction with the City of Charlotte and the six towns has issued a stay-at-home order for County residents. The order will go into effect on Thursday, March 26 at 8:00 a.m. and will remain in effect for the next 21 days.

Link to Proclamation here: https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Documents/Mecklenburg%20County%20Stay%20at%20Home%20Orders.pdf

The order directs all individuals living in the county to remain at their place of residence except to provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain activities and work for essential business and government services. It also directs all businesses and governmental agencies to cease nonessential operations at physical locations in the County and prohibits all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals. It also orders cessation of all non-essential travel. If you leave your home for essential activities or if you go to work in an essential business you must follow social distancing practices, staying at least 6 feet apart from each other.

Essential activities include (itemized list on pages 8-11 in proclamation):

  • Engaging in or performing tasks essential to maintain health and safety. Examples include picking up medicine or visiting a doctor.
  • Obtaining necessary supplies for you, your family or household members, necessary for staying home. Support your local businesses by ordering curbside pick-up, delivery, take out or drive thru. Please only purchase items you immediately need and do not stockpile.
  • Going for a run, hike or other outdoor activity while maintaining proper social distancing. Our parks will remain open, but the play areas are closed.
  • To care for a family member in another household.
  • To care for elderly, minors, dependents, or other vulnerable persons

Essential businesses include:

  • Health care operations and home health workers
  • Essential infrastructure, including construction of housing (residential and mixed-use), industrial and commercial projects currently underway
  • Grocery stores and convenience stores
    Restaurants offering curbside pick-up, delivery, take out or drive-thru services
  • Pharmacies
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities
  • Banks
  • Garbage collection.  Waste Pro will continue to pick up trash, recycling and yard waste a normal schedule.
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses.
  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work.

Buncombe County Plans: An article today references that Buncombe County is drafting a more restrictive order than the state executive order that is likely to be signed tomorrow.

As we sent earlier this morning, other localities we are aware of include the following:

  • Pitt County: Last night, Pitt County, NC approved a 2-week “Shelter in Place” order effective for all unincorporated areas of the county for non-essential travel to last from March 25 at 5pm – April 8. Many retail operations are included as essential businesses.
    Pitt County Proclamation Text
  • The Town of Beaufort and Madison County have also issued Shelter in Place Orders as linked in this article: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/coronavirus/article241449231.html
  • The Town of Beaufort shelter in place order goes into effect at 6am on March 25 and is scheduled to last until at least April 22.
  • Madison County did not provide a timeline.
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has also implemented a shelter in place order designating grocery, pharmacy, gas stations and auto repair as some of the essential businesses. Click here to view that order.

NCRMA will be tracking any additional local restrictions here: bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

NC Department of Revenue Tax Filing / Penalty Relief
The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is offering individuals and businesses relief as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

NCDOR Frequently Asked Question for COVID-19 Tax Relief

NCDOR has extended the time for filing income and franchise tax returns due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, for individuals, corporations, and estates and trusts to mirror the announced deadline change from the Internal Revenue Service. The automatic extension also applies to partnerships.

The NCDOR will not impose the late payment penalty for income tax due on April 15, 2020 if the tax is paid by July 15, 2020 to provide taxpayers and businesses additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. While the NCDOR is waiving late payment penalties through July 15, state law prevents waiving any interest.

NC DOR Penalty Waiver / Form to Waive Penalties and Delay Payment/Filing
The Department will waive any Late Action Penalties assessed against individuals or businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 (“Affected Taxpayers”) in recognition that some taxpayers because of COVID-19 may not be able to meet certain filing or payment requirements.  The waiver applies to the failure to timely obtain a license, file a return, or pay a tax that is due between March 15, 2020, and March 31, 2020, if the license is obtained, the return or extension application is filed, or the tax is paid by April 15, 2020. Under this guidance, this would allow a COVID-19 “affected taxpayer” to complete and file Form NC-5500 below to extend payment until April 15 and have penalties waived.

This applies to sales tax as well as excise taxes on malt beverages & wine, tobacco products and fuel for those returns due for a tax due between March 15, 2020 and March 31, 2020. The North Carolina Department of Revenue will make new determinations for taxes due after April 1, 2020. Again, state law prevents NC DOR from waiting any interest.

Categories included in the directive:

  • The penalty for failure to obtain a license (G.S. 105-236(a)(2);
  • The penalty for failure to file a return (G.S. 105-236(a)(3));
  • The penalty for failure to pay tax when due (G.S. 105-236(a)(4)); and
  • The penalties regarding informational return (G.S. 105-236(a)(10))

How to Obtain State Penalty Waivers:
To qualify for the waiver, an Affected Taxpayer must file the return, pay the tax, obtain the license, or receive an extension on or before April 15, 2020.  The waiver will be considered a waiver for special circumstances (i.e. the waiver will not be considered a waiver for good compliance that can only be granted once every three years per tax type).

Affected Taxpayers who cannot meet their filing or payment requirement as a result of COVID-19 should complete Form NC-5500, Request to Waive Penalties (“NC-5500”).  Affected Taxpayers should write “COVID-19” on the top of the NC-5500.  Affected Taxpayers that do not have access to the NC-5500 can attach a letter requesting a penalty waiver.  The letter should contain the taxpayer’s name, address, SSN or FEIN, Account ID, and the tax type and tax period for which the taxpayer seeks waiver of penalty. The NC-5500 or letter should be mailed to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, Customer Service, P.O. Box 1168, Raleigh, NC 27602.

NCRMA Jobs Page
We know there are some specific types of retail businesses that are in need of extra help and are looking to hire.

For that reason, we have created a dedicated page on the NCRMA website at: https://www.ncrma.org/jobs/ where we will be glad to list your business and link to your jobs or career website.

If you would like to be added to the current list, or removed, please email Ann Edmondson at anne@ncrma.org.

UPDATE: March 23, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper has issued a new Executive Order 120 today that:

Orders all K-12 schools statewide to remain closed through May 15.
Further restricts the ban on mass gatherings (from 100+) to 50+ or more people thereby ordering the closure of movie theaters, gyms and fitness clubs, bowling alleys and sweepstakes parlors as of March 25. Barbershops, salons and some other businesses also will be closed.

Also, see this corrected link to NCRMA Summary Doc for FMLA/UI/SBA Info: https://www.ncrma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/UI-Sick-Leave-FMLA-and-SBA.pdf

NCRMA Resources

North Carolina COVID-19 Resources

NC Executive Order 116 (issued March 10): Declaration of State of Emergency
NC Executive Order 117 (issued March 14): Closes all K-12 Schools and Prohibits Mass Gatherings over 100 People
NC Executive Order 118 (issued March 17): Limits operations of restaurants and bars
NC Executive Order 119 (issued March 20): Facilitates critical motor vehicle operations; expands access to health care

General NCDOR Information:
Taxpayers are encouraged to file their taxes online. Most taxpayers can file online for free at: www.NCDOR.gov/NCfreefile
NCDOR online services: www.ncdor.gov
NCDOR phone numbers: General information: 1-877-252-3052; Individual income tax refund inquiries: 1-877-252-4052

UPDATE: March 20, 2020

NCRMA understands that many retailers are seeing reduced foot traffic in their stores resulting in reduced revenue and having to make difficult decisions regarding their valuable employees.

A number of state and federal measures have recently been adopted to offer employers and employees relief during this unprecedented time.

  • The United States Congress took steps with regards to mandated paid sick leave and additional leave that is similar to that afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act. (Link to comparison chart at: https://bit.ly/FFchart).
  • In North Carolina, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 which included measures addressing unemployment insurance.
  • Additionally, Small Business Administration Loans are also now available.

Click here to read NCRMA’s summary of these three programs.

Curfews & Restrictions
NCRMA has learned of the following curfews and restrictions in NC:

  • Andrews (Town) – 11pm – 6am Pedestrian Curfew
  • Murphy (Town) – 9pm – 6am Pedestrian Curfew
  • Fairmont (Town) – 8pm – 6am for 16 & under (does not apply to work)
  • Gibson (Town) – 10pm – 6am
  • Monroe (Town) – 11pm – 7am for under 16 (does apply to work)
  • Dare (County) – Access Closed to Non-Residents

For a comprehensive, up-to-date spreadsheet on local restrictions, click here:

bit.ly/NCRMA-COVID19

NC Re-Entry: As a reminder, this is a time to have your NC Emergency Management Re-Entry Certification on-hand either in hard copy or electronically. If you need assistance accessing your certification on WebEOC (www.ncsparta.net), please reach out to beoc@ncdps.gov and cc me, elizabethr@ncrma.org.

NC ABC Commission Extends Renewal Deadline

ABC permits normally renew May 1 but the NC ABC Commission today announced at NCRMA’s request that they will offer a grace period for the registration/renewal process until June 30, 2020.

NC Department of Revenue Tax Filing / Penalty Relief
The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) is offering individuals and businesses relief as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NCDOR will not impose the late payment penalty for income tax due on April 15, 2020 if the tax is paid by July 15, 2020. This announcement was released just prior to the IRS announcement today that the filing deadline for Federal taxes will in fact be extended until July 15 to provide taxpayers and businesses additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. While we await confirmation, NCRMA has reached out to NCDOR today and it is anticipated that they will mirror this filing extension for North Carolina to July 15. While the NCDOR is waiving late payment penalties through July 15, state law prevents waiving any interest.

NC DOR Penalty Waiver / Form to Waive Penalties and Delay Payment/Filing
The Department will waive any Late Action Penalties assessed against individuals or businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 (“Affected Taxpayers”) in recognition that some taxpayers because of COVID-19 may not be able to meet certain filing or payment requirements.  The waiver applies to the failure to timely obtain a license, file a return, or pay a tax that is due between March 15, 2020, and March 31, 2020, if the license is obtained, the return or extension application is filed, or the tax is paid by April 15, 2020. Under this guidance, this would allow a COVID-19 “affected taxpayer” to complete and file Form NC-5500 below  to extend payment until April 15 and have penalties waived – this would include sales tax returns as well as pre-payments. Again, state law prevents NC DOR from waiting any interest.

Categories included in the directive:

  • The penalty for failure to obtain a license (G.S. 105-236(a)(2);
  • The penalty for failure to file a return (G.S. 105-236(a)(3));
  • The penalty for failure to pay tax when due (G.S. 105-236(a)(4)); and
  • The penalties regarding informational return (G.S. 105-236(a)(10))

How to Obtain State Penalty Waivers:
To qualify for the waiver, an Affected Taxpayer must file the return, pay the tax, obtain the license, or receive an extension on or before April 15, 2020.  The waiver will be considered a waiver for special circumstances (i.e. the waiver will not be considered a waiver for good compliance that can only be granted once every three years per tax type).

Affected Taxpayers who cannot meet their filing or payment requirement as a result of COVID-19 should complete Form NC-5500, Request to Waive Penalties (“NC-5500”).  Affected Taxpayers should write “COVID-19” on the top of the NC-5500.  Affected Taxpayers that do not have access to the NC-5500 can attach a letter requesting a penalty waiver.  The letter should contain the taxpayer’s name, address, SSN or FEIN, Account ID, and the tax type and tax period for which the taxpayer seeks waiver of penalty. The NC-5500 or letter should be mailed to the North Carolina Department of Revenue, Customer Service, P.O. Box 1168, Raleigh, NC 27602.

General NCDOR Information:
Taxpayers are encouraged to file their taxes online. Most taxpayers can file online for free at: www.NCDOR.gov/NCfreefile
NCDOR online services: www.ncdor.gov
NCDOR phone numbers: General information: 1-877-252-3052; Individual income tax refund inquiries: 1-877-252-4052

UPDATE: March 18, 2020

Alcohol Permits Referenced in Executive Order

Many retailers have on-premises or wine shop permits that allows for the sale of beer and wine for on-premises and off-premises consumption. The Executive Order language attempted to shut down “bars” by mistakenly reference facilities that were not restaurants but that had on-premises alcohol permits and then stated that this did not apply to retailers who only sold alcohol for off-premise consumption only.  This would have in effect meant that retailers who had on-premise permits would have also been prohibited from selling for off-premises consumption. (See Section 1(c)-(d))

NCRMA President, Andy Ellen, spoke with the Governor’s Office about the inconsistency and they are working on clarification. In the meantime, the ABC Commission Chairman issued helpful guidance at the link below and ALE Director Bryan House has taken the same stance which is – ABC permittees with on and off premises consumption permits may continue to sell for off-premises consumption but must halt on-premises sales.  ALE Director House has also conveyed the same information to the Police Chiefs Association.

Please read the ABC Commission and ALE interpretation at the link below.
https://abc.nc.gov/PublicResources/LegalAnnouncement/261

In addition, NCRMA has created a simple yet comprehensive explanation of the rules for Curbside Pickup and Delivery of Alcohol.

We have also created signage you are welcome to use to explain to your customers the restrictions set forth in Executive Order 118:

Optional NCRMA Retail Signage for Dine-In Closures:
ABC Permittees: http://bit.ly/drink-ncrma
Other Dining Establishments: http://bit.ly/dine-ncrma

UPDATE: March 17, 2020

NC Executive Order Issued Today Closes Restaurants and Bars for Dine-In Customers, Allows Takeout and Delivery Operations to Continue and Also Expands Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19

This afternoon, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 mandating the closure of all dine-in restaurants and bars beginning today, Tuesday March 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm EST. The executive order allows these establishments to continue carry-out, drive-through and delivery options. Businesses can continue to offer delivery, take-out, and drive-thru/pickup options. Any grocery stores with seating areas or bars for on-premise consumption need to take the appropriate measure to close access to dine-in seating areas.

NCRMA has developed signage you may use. If you would like a poster to print, feel free to use the ones linked below:

Restaurants and other food service establishments with a dining area.

Bottle shops and other on-premise establishments.

The NC ABC Commission released Compliance Guidance for Executive Order 118
  • All on-premise sales and consumption must stop.  This includes patios and outdoor picnic tables.
  • Only off-premise sales of beer and wine are allowed from establishments with appropriate retail beer or wine permits.
  • Retail permittees may deliver to vehicles at a curb or a parking space adjacent to the licensed premises while this Executive Order is in place.
  • Spirituous liquor sales from ABC stores are determined by local ABC boards.  Distilleries may still sell bottles for off-premises consumption.
  • On-premise mixed beverage sales or consumption is not allowed at distilleries while this Executive Order in is effect.
  • Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order is a Class 2 misdemeanor.  166A-19.30(d)
  • Violation of the Governor’s Executive Order could result in penalties against ABC permits.  18B-1005

 

The Executive Order also makes changes to NC Unemployment Insurance in North Carolina, including:

  • Waives the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment benefits
  • Waives the requirement that a person must look for another job during this time.
  • Allows employees who lose their jobs, or in certain cases have their hours reduced, to apply for benefits.
  • Waives the requirement that part of the application process be in person. (Info on how to apply remotely can be found at: https://des.nc.gov)
  • Directs that these unemployment losses will not be counted against employers.

We also recommend employers take the following two steps to ensure employee-filed claims are identified and processed in accordance with Executive Order 118:

  • Encourage employees to mention COVID-19 in their claim when filing for unemployment as a result of the Coronavirus.
  • The employer response to the claim should clearly highlight COVID-19 as the cause and ask specifically for “noncharging.”

UPDATE: March 14, 2020

NC Executive Order Issued today Closing All K-12 Schools for Two Weeks and Prohibiting Mass Gathering of 100+

This afternoon, Governor Cooper issued an additional Executive Order 117.

In section 1 of the order, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-19.30(b)(3), in order to regulate and control the congregation of persons in public places or buildings the Governor is prohibiting mass gatherings of more than hundred (100) people in the State of North Carolina. Mass gatherings as defined in the Executive Order as follows:

  • A mass gathering is defined as any event or convening that brings together more than one hundred (100)  persons in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, theater, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs and festivals.
  • A mass gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and centers, or other spaces where more than one hundred (100) persons are gathered. It also does not include office environments, restaurants, factories,  grocery stores or other retail establishments.

Section 2 of the orders the closure of all K-12 public schools in North Carolina, pursuant to his authority under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-19.30(b)(5) which allows him to take the  necessary action to promote and secure the safety and protection of the civilian population.

This follows Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 116 on Tuesday 3/10, declaring North Carolina under a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus. Currently, 23 North Carolina residents have reported positive test results for the virus in 12 counties. The State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s price gouging law – below is a link to NCRMA’s compliance document.

How to Comply: NC Price Gouging Law

Update on commercial “hours of service” waivers:
NC Executive Order 116 issued on Tuesday, March 10 included hours of service waivers which is interpreted to food and other essentials in commerce during the State of Emergency. In addition,On Friday 3/13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the issuance of a national emergency declaration that provides “hours of service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak” for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The declaration includes allowing transportation of “food for emergency restocking of stores” as one of the qualifiers for hours of service exemptions. It will remain in effect until the emergency declaration is lifted or April 12, 2020, whichever comes sooner (and with a possibility to be extended as needed). The full list of criteria in order for commercial motor vehicle operations to meet the “direct assistance” threshold to qualify for such exemptions with respects to Coronavirus support which includes the transportation of: supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and food for emergency restocking of stores.

This follows Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 116 on Tuesday 3/10, declaring North Carolina under a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus. Currently, 23 North Carolina residents have reported positive test results for the virus in 12 counties. The State of Emergency triggers North Carolina’s price gouging law – below is a link to NCRMA’s compliance document.

UPDATE: March 13, 2020

NC Medicaid issued a Special Medicaid Bulletin today that will impact both pharmacy (especially 90-day supplies) and durable medical equipment providers.

Link here to the Special Bulletin. The most important information below.

Pharmacy: Temporary Flexibilities Effective March 13, 2020

Recommendations for social distancing in response to the COVID-19 present situations where Medicaid and Health Choice beneficiaries may benefit from an early refill or expanded quantity of their prescription medications. In these situations, NC Medicaid enrolled pharmacy providers should resubmit these claims with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and a valid value for an E.R. override in the Reason for Service, Professional Service and Result of Service fields to override a denial for an early refill. Do not place any values in the Submission Clarification Code field.

This override code will allow for early refills and will also allow for coverage of up to a 90-day supply of the medication. Be aware that NC Medicaid policy allows a 90-day supply to be filled when the prescription is either written for a 90-day supply or has enough refills remaining to fill for up to 90 days.

  • Note that these edit changes do not apply to controlled substances. Additionally, providers are encouraged to follow all applicable state and federal laws and regulations for controlled substances.
  • If necessary, up to a 14-day emergency supply can be billed for any pharmacy claim requiring prior approval when no active prior approval is showing in NCTracks. The pharmacy provider should resubmit these claims with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and “03” in the Level of Service Field.
  • For beneficiaries in the Pharmacy Lock-in Program needing emergency supplies of Lock-In program-related medications, up to a 14-day emergency supply can be billed with “09” (Emergency Preparedness) in the PA Type Code field and “03” in the Level of Service Field. This override is only valid once per beneficiary per year. Beneficiaries and providers may also contact the NCTracks call center to change either the preferred Lock-In pharmacy or preferred Lock-In prescriber on an emergency basis.
  • Copay requirements are still applicable to these pharmacy claims.

Providers may submit any information related to market shortages of medications directly to NC Medicaid staff at Medicaid.PDL@dhhs.nc.gov.

Durable Medical Equipment: Temporary Flexibilities Effective March 13, 2020

Effective March 13, 2020, Medicaid and NC Health Choice coverage was added for HCPCS code A4928 – surgical mask, per 20. If medically necessary, this item may be provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections and their caregivers without first seeking prior authorization (PA).

Also effective March 13, 2020, if medically necessary, the respiratory equipment and supplies listed below that typically require PA may be provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections without first seeking PA.

Effective March 13, 2020, if medically necessary, quantity limits on the following supplies may be exceeded when provided to beneficiaries with respiratory infections without first seeking PA:

UPDATE: March 12, 2020

Insurance Commissioner authorizes extra prescriptions during state of emergency due to COVID-19

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has directed all health benefit plans licensed by the N.C. Department of Insurance to allow for extra prescriptions as a result of the state of emergency declared by Governor Roy Cooper.

This means covered persons may obtain one refill on a prescription if there are authorized refills and not contrary to the dispensing authority of the pharmacy.

This emergency authorization is in effect until April 9, 2020 or 29 days after NCDOI issued a bulletin March 11 to all insurance companies, the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees, and any optional plans or programs, and other stand-alone prescription medication plans issued by entities licensed by the Department.

CVS Pharmacy has announced it will also waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications to encourage people at a higher risk for COVID-19 to stay home as much as possible.

Insurance Commissioner Causey reminds consumers the largest health insurer in the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, has agreed to waive copays for coronavirus diagnostic testing (not services) and NCDOI is encouraging other health insurers in the state to do the same.

Many insurers have also agreed to cover telemedicine or virtual visits to allow people to remotely speak to their doctors.

The Department understands the COVID-19 public health emergency is changing daily and encourages the public to visit their insurer’s website for the most up-to-date information pertaining to their health coverage.

Information via ncdoi.gov.

UPDATE: March 11, 2020

U.S. Department of Labor Offers Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

The document provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure.

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”

This guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers, and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
  • The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.

UPDATE: March 10, 2020

Governor Cooper Declares a State of Emergency

Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency over the recent outbreak of coronavirus in North Carolina. According to Gov. Cooper, the DECLARATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY TO COORDINATE RESPONSE AND PROTECTIVE ACTIONS TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19, will speed up the flow of supplies, allow for budget flexibility as well as help the response to and prevention of further infections.

*North Carolina’s price gouging law is now in effect after today’s state of emergency declaration.

Click here to read the full text.

UPDATE: March 9, 2020

Retailers, If your store location has been exposed to a person with the Coronavirus, you should contact your local county health department immediately.

NCRMA strongly encourages you to prepare now by identifying the corresponding county health department for each of your store location(s) before a situation arises. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/county-health-departments

 

Facts, Not Fear

WRAL News answered coronavirus questions with guests State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, Wake County Human Services Director Regina Petteway and Timothy Sheahan from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Epidemiology. Access the video here.

HELPFUL LINKS

REQUIRED Signage: Face Covering Requirement

NC DHHS Requirements for the Use of Face Coverings and Masks

REQUIRED Signage: COVID Prevention Measures

REQUIRED Signage: Emergency Maximum Occupancy

REQUIRED Signage: Shop Smart

Signage: Consumers stay 6ft apart

Signage: ABC Permittees for Dine-In Closure

Signage: Other Dining Establishments for Dine-In Closure

Social Distancing Guidance for Retailers 

NCRMA’s Local Order tracking

NC Retailers’ Special Shopping Hours

NCDHHS Checklist for Business Owners

Employee Symptom Screening Checklist

NCRMA Summary Doc for FMLA/UI/SBA Info

UPDATED: CISA List (as of April 17th)

NCDOR Request To Be Considered an Essential Business

UPDATE: March 6, 2020

Second Case of COVID-19 Identified in North Carolina

North Carolina health officials announced Friday that a second North Carolinian has tested positive for the strain coronavirus known as COVID-19. The man is from Chatham County and has recently returned from a trip to Italy where he began experiencing symptoms.

The department distributed the linked press release on the newly diagnosed case: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/north-carolina-identifies-second-case-covid-19

Governor Roy Cooper, along with state health officials and others, held a press conference this afternoon. You can watch the video via WRAL https://www.wral.com/coronavirus-sickens-second-person-in-nc/18996626/

We will keep you updated as news continues to break.

UPDATE: March 4, 2020

Case of COVID-19 Identified in NC

For NC Coronovirus updates, follow @ncrma on Twitter and check NCRMA’s coronavirus webpage at https://www.ncrma.org/coronavirus/

Yesterday, North Carolina identified its first case of COVID-19 in a Wake County resident who had visited the long-term care facility in Washington State where there were numerous confirmed cases. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has been working to identify individuals who were on the same flight back to North Carolina as the Wake County resident that was exposed to the Coronavirus.

Story Link: https://www.wral.com/person-in-wake-county-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-is-doing-well/18990198/

Governor Cooper held a press conference urging residents to stay calm, to continue to wash their hands and to stay home if sick.

Press conference link: https://wlos.com/news/local/first-coronavirus-case-confirmed-in-north-carolina?jwsource=cl

NCRMA has been in contact with Governor Cooper’s Administration as well with the Division of Emergency Management to best help NCRMA members prepare their businesses and continue serving their customers. In the event the coronavirus should escalate we anticipate that the Division of Emergency Management would activate the Emergency Management Center to monitor and manage the coronavirus.

UPDATE: February 27, 2020

North Carolina Coronavirus Task Force Urges Businesses, Residents to Be Prepared

North Carolina officials’ message to residents and businesses about COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus): if you haven’t started thinking about it, it’s time to start.

Specifically for businesses, officials said it might be time to break out the HR handbooks and make sure employees know their options for Telehealth and working remotely.

On Wednesday afternoon, the co-chairs for Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus task force urged North Carolina residents to begin taking certain, limited, action in preparation for a potential outbreak of the virus, which has infected tens of thousands of people around the globe.

Health officials stressed that zero cases of COVID-19 have been verified in N.C. as of Wednesday afternoon and said they do not suggest that people begin working from home or taking drastic action.

“We still consider the risk to North Carolina to be very low,” state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson said during a press briefing. “We want people to take advantage of that low to prepare. … this is a matter of how to best prepare but not to panic.”

READ MORE: WakeMed, Duke: If coronavirus hits Raleigh-Durham, home quarantine will be the best option

Concerns over COVID-19 have been steadily rising across the globe since its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, late last year. In recent days confirmed cases of the virus have stretched across every continent except Antartica. Infections have been confirmed in more than 25 countries and officials have advised that an outbreak is “inevitable” in the United States. As of Wednesday, the virus has been blamed for more than 2,700 deaths, with the vast majority being in China.

North Carolina received its first COVID-19 scare in late January when a traveler who passed through Raleigh-Durham Airport was presenting symptoms. That case was determined to not be a result of the COVID-19 strain.

This poll is not a scientific sampling. It offers a quick view of what readers are thinking.

State health officials said they cannot anticipate when – or if – the virus is coming to North Carolina.

“I think it’s a really hard thing to for us to know when,” Tilson said. “Which is why we’ve been preparing for the last month, we’re preparing today and we’ll prepare tomorrow. It’s hard thing to say if and when, so the best thing we can do is be as prepared as possible today.”

Mike Sprayberry, N.C. director of Emergency Management, is also a co-chair with the task force.

Tilson’s advice to residents is to practice behaviors that would make just as much sense during flu season: wash hands, don’t touch your face and avoid those who are sick. She also reminded residents that face-masks do little to prevent infection and should be reserved for medical workers and the sick who actually need them.

The state’s specific advice for businesses and employers is:

  • Practice good hand hygiene and encourage your employees and patrons to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Review your policies and procedures for remote or teleworking where possible.
  • Cross-train employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences.
  • Review absenteeism policies to make sure employees are not being encouraged to come to work if they are sick.
  • If you have not already, establish a relationship with your local health department and communicate with them if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19.

UPDATE: February 26, 2020

While there are currently no known cases of the Coronavirus in North Carolina please use the links to the webpages of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Coronavirus. Additionally, Federal OSHA has just issued information concerning the Coronavirus in the workplace. There will be more information to come as it becomes available.

There is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19. However, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure to COVID-19. Among the most relevant are:

  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
    • When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, 29 USC 654(a)(1), which requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
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