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NC's Safer at Home & Court Updates - What does this mean for our industry?

COVID-19 Resource Center ,
On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will move into Safer At Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22 at 5 pm.

As we continue to get guidance and recommendations from local officials regarding North Carolina's phased reopening, we'll update this page. Please bookmark it and check back often.

Updated: 9:14 am Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The information provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information in this report is for general informational purposes only. Please contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter before taking action.

Under the Governor's order, local governments may add more restrictive guidelines than those outlined in Safer at Home. Durham is the only local government with additional rules at this time. Businesses operating in Durham should be following the rules outlined in the modified Durham Stay at Home order, found here

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Pools   Fitness Centers   Leasing Offices   Court Updates


Exec Order 141 - Phase 2

NC Phase 2 FAQ

NC's Interim Guidance for Public Pools and Spas

Emergency Orders - Court Operations - May 21, 2020


In short, yes, indoor and outdoor pools may be open if specific public health requirements are followed. The order specifically names these restrictions applicable to "residential complexes."

Open indoor and outdoor pools must:

  • Limit user capacity in the pool to no more than Emergency Maximum Occupancy;
    • Emergency Maximum Occupancy for the pool facility: No more than 50% of maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (or, when fire code number is not known, thirty-three (33) people per one thousand (1000) square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads), and a maximum occupancy in the water of ten (10) people per one thousand (1000) square feet.
  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place;
  • Post signage reminding pool attendees 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; and
  • 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).

Full Details:

Public pools and spas are required to:

  • Limit the user capacity in the pool to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (when fire code number is not known, maximum occupancy can be calculated as 33 people per 1,000 square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads), AND a maximum occupancy in the water of 10 people per 1,000 square feet, AND ensure sufficient social distancing with at least 6-foot separation between family units.
  • Post the reduced “Emergency Maximum Capacity” of both the pool enclosure and the water in a noticeable place. Sign templates are 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 NC DHHS COVID-19 response site. 

It is recommended that public pools and spas:

  • Have all chairs and lounges designated for use spaced at least 6 feet apart; unless the patrons are a family unit from the same household. Pool decks should be marked so chairs and lounges can be maintained at proper distances and extra seating should be removed from the deck.
  • Provide marks on the floors of restrooms and locker rooms to indicate proper social distancing. When sinks are not 6 feet apart, consider limiting use to every other sink. If possible, designate entrance and exit doors for restrooms and locker rooms so occupants do not come face to face.
  • Discontinue the use of shared tables among non-family units.
  • Limit the use to one swimmer per lane when swim lanes are provided. When a swim coach is present and providing lessons, coaching, or overseeing a swim practice, swimmers per lane can be increased from one per lane to two. Social distancing must still be practiced to the extent possible within the swim lane.
  • Mark off a six-foot perimeter around lifeguard chairs when deck space allows.
  • Designate an Entrance and Exit location when there are 2 or more entrances into the pool area. Provide a designated area with social distancing markings for guests waiting to enter the pool area.
  • Provide lifeguards with pocket masks to eliminate mouth to mouth contact in case resuscitation is needed.
  • Advise lifeguards and maintenance staff to stay 6 feet away from patrons to the extent possible.
  • Advise employees to stay 6 feet away from each other to the extent possible.
  • Stagger swimming times or cohort family units to the extent possible by using reservation systems or other methods; rotate or stagger shifts to limit the number of employees in the pool area at the same time.
  • Schedule activities so there is adequate space in the pool, allow sign-up by phone or online.
  • Install plexiglass barriers when gate attendants are needed. If this is not possible, cloth face coverings are recommended
  • Remove pool toys, shared exercise equipment and other items from the pool area.
  • Continue to offer contactless entry options, use phone app technology to alert patrons when the pool area is available based on schedule or occupancy.

Fitness Centers

The following entertainment and fitness facilities that operate within a confined indoor or outdoor space and do not offer a retail or dining component are ordered to close.

  • Indoor Exercise Facilities ( e.g., yoga studios, dance studios, martial arts facilities, indoor trampoline and rock climbing facilities) 
  • Gyms
  • Indoor Fitness Facilities, including but not limited to indoor basketball courts, volleyball courts, racquetball courts, squash courts, and tennis courts

Leasing Offices

More info to come. We are seeking specific guidance regarding leasing from state officials. The order recommends teleworking when possible. If not possible, retail establishments open to the public must include the following. We are seeking guidance as to whether leasing offices should be treated as retail business, or have special rules, but in the interim, we recommend conforming with the following guidelines.

Establishments open to the public must display "Core Signage. Screening. and Sanitation Requirements"

  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place.
  • Post signage reminding attendees, customers, and workers about social distancing (staying at least six (6) feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been symptomatic with 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-1 9).

Open establishments must limit customers inside the store to Emergency Maximum Occupancy.

Under this Executive Order, the Emergency Maximum Occupancy for a Retail Business is the lowest number produced by applying the following two tests:

  • Limit the number of customers in the store to fifty percent (50%) of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twelve (12) customers for every one thousand (1000) square feet of the location's total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests).
  • Limit the number of people in the store so that everyone can stay six ( 6) feet apart.

Court Updates

On Thursday, May 21, 2020, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued new emergency orders about court operations across North Carolina. The orders extend some filing deadlines, postpone jury trials, and require in-person court operations to take place with some defined restrictions to ensure safety protocols like social distancing and routine cleaning take place. 

Regarding summary ejectment and eviction hearings, NC AOC Director McKinley Wooten stated the plan is move forward with these cases while using social distancing, relying heavily on local court officials as they make decisions to put the cases back on the calendar. They will be heard but cognitive of safety and health.