Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (Charlotte) Imposes "Stay at Home Order" for All County Residents beginning March 26, 2020

Date   Mar 24, 2020

Summary: As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Mecklenburg County, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office has announced a Stay-at-Home Order for County residents (the “Order”). 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 (i.e., until April 16, 2020). These restrictions follow earlier state-level restrictions, which resulted in the closure of schools, bars, and restaurants, and limited the number of people allowed at public gatherings.

According to the Order, all residents of Mecklenburg County are required to shelter at their places of residence. Mecklenburg County residents may leave their homes to provide or receive “essential services,” engage in “essential activities,” and perform work for “essential” businesses and government services.

What activities are allowed?

Individuals are allowed to leave their homes to engage in “essential activities,” which include activities:

  • For health and safety (including to engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members, including pets)
    • Examples: Seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication, or visiting a health care professional for medical services that cannot be provided virtually
  • To obtain necessary supplies and services (including to obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves and their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others)
    • Examples: Shopping for groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies they need to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • For outdoor activities
    • Examples: Golfing, running, cycling, or using the greenways (although playgrounds must close)
  • For certain types of work (including to perform work providing essential products and services)
  • To take care of others (including to care for a family member, friend, or pet in another household, and to transport family members, friends, or pets)

What activities are prohibited?

Unless otherwise allowed by the Order, public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. The Order also prohibits all travel unless it is deemed “essential,” which is defined to include travel:

  • Related to the provision of or access to “Essential Activities,” “Essential Governmental Functions,” “Essential Businesses and Operations,” or “Minimum Basic Operations”
  • To care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • To or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • To return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction
  • Required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement
  • Required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County

What is an Essential Business?

Businesses deemed to be “essential” and allowed to remain open include:

  • Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders
  • Food, beverages, and agriculture (manufacturing, production, processing, cultivation including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, distribution of animals and goods for consumption, providing food, shelter, and other necessities for animals)
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services (businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations including food banks, when providing food and shelter, social services, and other necessities for life for economically disadvantaged or needy individuals, individuals who need assistance, and people with disabilities)
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Communication and information technology
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation (gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities and bicycle shops and related facilities)
  • Financial institutions (banks, currency exchange, consumer lenders including, but not limited to, payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and future exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products)
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades (building and construction – plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses)
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services (post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels)
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises (in-house delivery, third-party deliver, drive-through, curbside pick-up, and carry-out)
  • Supplies to work from home
  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations (see #14 in the order for details)
  • Transportation (airlines, taxis, public transportation, vehicle rental, logistics)
  • Home-based care and services (home-based care for adults, seniors, children, people with disabilities)
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, restricted to appraisal and title services)
  • Childcare centers (for specific employees – first responders, healthcare workers, public health, etc.)
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain (see #20 in the order for details)
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions including human services
  • Other community-based human service operations
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials

What Businesses Must Close?

In addition to requiring closure of all non-essential business and operations, the Order expressly mandates closure of all places of public amusement (e.g., carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children's play centers, playgrounds, recreation centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs).

Other Prohibitions and Details

  • Owners, administrators, operators, staff, contractors, and volunteers of nursing homes, long-term care and assisted living facilities are prohibited from allowing a person to enter the facility and visit a resident unless each of the following criteria are met: (1) the visitor is an adult; (2) the resident has not already had a visitor that day; and (3) the visit takes place in the resident’s room.
  • For employees that work in Mecklenburg County but live elsewhere, the Order still requires the business/employer to comply with the Order.

Helpful Links

If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the authors, Julie Adams,,  Angela Cummings,, and Benjamin Fryer,, all attorneys in our Charlotte, North Carolina office. Of course you may also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work. Please click here for links to other mandates issued by states and major municipalities.

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