Local News

Durham eases outdoor gathering limit, urges more health screenings

Posted July 9, 2020 2:01 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2020 8:56 a.m. EDT

Testing and research

— As Durham moves closer to the reopening of city and county government services, officials have amended the city-county Safer-At-Home order once again.

The order went into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday. This is the ninth amendment to Durham’s order.

To slow the spread of COVID-19, officials limited outdoor large gatherings to 10 people originally. Mayor Steve Schewel said the city is now aligned with the governor’s order allowing 10 people inside and 25 outside.

Employers will now have to screen their employees more thoroughly. They must check for additional COVID-19 symptoms recently identified by the CDC.

“We’re fortunate in Durham, the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen our cases drop a little bit, which is great but we need to stay on that trend,” Schewel said.

To stay on this trend, Schewel mentioned the mask requirement will remain in place. This now includes businesses required to post signage visibly on their entrances.

“We’re going to also be printing up a thousand signs for some of our small businesses and will be taking them around town, along with masks as a startup kit,” he said.

“This is nowhere near political. It’s health,” said Ricky Moore, the owner of Saltbox Seafood Joint.

Moore believe it’s vital in the restaurant business to make swift changes when necessary.

“Restaurants are really vulnerable, extremely vulnerable because only certain people can really do the to-go thing effectively and maintain the integrity of their business model,” said Moore.

Moore said the future of restaurants and bars depends on the health of consumers. That’s why he’s placed signs at his entrances weeks ago. He's also been screening his small team of employees daily.

“We’ve been hit the hardest. We are the social Mecca of society. People come and socialize at restaurants. For me, it’s so important people comply so that we’re able to be around,” Moore said.

Other changes to the order include the standard for skilled nursing facilities. There’s an expanded list of symptoms to screen employees and new employees, monitoring the new ones for 14 days, along with a lower definition of what constitutes a reportable cluster.

Schewel said there are signs the city is moving in the right direction, but everyone must continue to do their part.

“We continue to see a lot of commitment to people keeping themselves and their neighbors safe,” Schewel said.

Durham’s "Back on the Bull" campaign is also now live, providing information and updates in the area.

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