Local News

Durham leaving stay-at-home order in place indefinitely

Posted May 15, 2020 11:32 a.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2020 7:32 p.m. EDT

— A stay-at-home order that has been in place for Durham County since late March will remain in effect indefinitely, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said Friday.

A revised order, which takes effect at 5 p.m., will largely conform to Gov. Roy Cooper's latest statewide order, allowing most businesses to operate if they adhere to strict cleaning protocols and take steps to ensure social distancing for both customers and employees.

Durham also has put its limit on gatherings at 10 people to align with the state order. Previously, the city and county cap on gatherings was five people.

But Schewel said the local order will continue to be stricter than the state's in several ways, including requiring people to cover their faces in public whenever social distancing isn't feasible.

Durham also continues to limit how and when real estate agents can show houses for sale, although some rules have been loosened:

  • Previously, no occupied homes could be shown in person, and only three showings per day were allowed at unoccupied ones. Under the new order, any home can be shown in person, as long as the showings are separated by at least an hour.
  • If a home is occupied, the residents need to leave the property one hour before a scheduled showing and return at least an hour after the showing is completed. For rental properties, showings are limited to no more than one per day, unless the tenant has expressly agreed in writing to more frequent showings.
  • Only one prospective buyer is allowed in at a time, unless a couple has been social distancing together. Real estate agents still cannot enter a home during a showing and must communicate with prospective buyers over the phone.

The Durham order also sets out a few specific rules for how childcare facilities operate, such as keep groups of children in separate rooms and keeping the same teachers with the same children each day.

Although the order allows gatherings of 10 people, it limits funerals to 25 people – half of the 50-person limit allowed under the state order.

"I can’t think of a time when Durham has faced this kind of emergency. We need leaders, and you all are going to be those leaders," Schewel told members of a task force that will advise local leaders on how best to resume business and social activities during the pandemic.

Schewel said a local advisory group of clergy is developing a list of best practices for churches to adopt as they start offering more in-person services, noting that officials advise churches to continue providing services through streaming or outdoors, where people can exercise social distancing.

Ministers from across North Carolina rallied in Raleigh on Thursday to pressure Cooper to lift his prohibition on indoor services of more than 10 people, and a conservative group filed a lawsuit over the restriction.

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