As Lincoln County and the City of Lincolnton move into Phase 1 Reopening starting May 8, the Lincoln County Health Department, along with the county and the city, wants to remind citizens about steps they can take to protect themselves and their neighbors. The Stay at Home Order remains in place with some modifications and, when possible, residents should still stay at home, especially anyone who is feeling sick. Additionally, individuals with health complications that make them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 complications should evaluate their risk and act accordingly.
In order to easily remember the best way to practice precautions and reduce risk of exposure, follow the guidance for the “Three W’s.”
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering
- Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact. Maintain social distancing.
- Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer.
What is different about Phase 1?
This Phase 1 Executive Order does the following:
- Eliminates the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses;
- Allows most retail businesses (with exceptions) that can comply with specific requirements to open at 50 percent capacity;
- Allows people to leave home for non-essential goods or services;
- Encourages state parks and trails that are closed to open;
- Specifically allows people to gather outdoors while following the Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission, and with up to ten people;
- Opens child care to working families; and
- Encourages North Carolinians to wear cloth face coverings when outside the home in order to protect others.
Phase 1 allows more businesses to reopen with some restrictions. Businesses should take precautions to minimize the opportunity for COVID-19 transmission at their facility. For a checklist designed to help retail businesses and agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, click this LINK.
What requirements do retail businesses need to follow?
All retail businesses open to the public must:
- 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, to request people who are or have recently been symptomatic not to enter, and to notify customers of the reduced store capacity.
During this challenging time, it is important to remember that we are all in this together. Please be respectful of others, take precautions as appropriate for you and your family, and above all, be patient and kind. Public health experts suggest that if restrictions are eased gradually with safety practices still in place, North Carolina can benefit from increased economic activity while still keeping new case counts to a minimum.
In Gaston County, Eastridge Mall reopened Friday evening but not all mall stores participated. Some of the mall's restaurants were open for takeout orders, but the food court seating remained closed off. Belk at Eastridge was reopening on Saturday; the Lincolnton Belk store was scheduled to reopen Monday.
The mall will now be open from 11-7 Saturday, noon-6 Sunday; then 11-7 weekdays and noon-6 Sunday afternoons.
In Hickory, several of the shops at Union Square reopened Friday evening. Others were readying to open Saturday morning. The chairs and tables in the Union Square commons area have remained open and some have bought food at area restaurants and eaten there.
While Phase One began Friday, hair & nail salons, barber shops, gyms, bars, and theaters must remain closed. Restaurants remain limited to delivery and take-out service. Churches can hold outdoor services, but must maintain 'social distancing.' Since the limit of no more than 10 remains in place for gatherings, worship services in church sanctuaries still won't be possible until Phase Two which may begin in two weeks.