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Governor enacts statewide stay-at-home order

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has issued a statewide stay-at-home order, effective at 5 p.m. Monday. Cooper urged North Carolinans to begin staying at home as soon as possible. The full text of the order can be viewed here.

“It is what we have to do to save lives,” Cooper said. “It has the force of law. This order directs you to stay home unless you need to leave for essentials, such as your job, food, medicine, outdoor exercise, or to help others. The order allows essential services to continue, and directs that those businesses that need to remain open use a strong social distancing policy.”

The order also bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from one another. Violations of the order are a class 2 misdemeanor, and Cooper said local district attorneys and law enforcement agencies will have discretion to enforce the order as necessary.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” Cooper said. Although we are physically apart, we must take this step together in spirit.”

Exceptions to the order include leaving the home for health and safety reasons, to shop for necessary supplies and services, outdoor activity, certain types of work, caring for family members, and volunteering. Homeless individuals are exempt from the order and encouraged to obtain shelter that meets social distancing requirements if possible. The order also encourages people whose homes may become unsafe, including those experiencing domestic violence, to leave home and find alternative places to stay.

Cooper acknowledged that the order may bring increased economic hardships for North Carolinians, saying he was seeking additional actions from the state and federal government to help workers, families and businesses. The order contains a list of approximately 30 categories of businesses that are deemed essential.

“I know this order may lead to even more hardship and heartache,” Cooper said. “Many of you are already doing what you’re supposed to, even though that means that you’re isolated or you might have lost your job. That’s a difficult situation, so thank you for doing the right thing. And I will do everything in my power to cushion the economic blow.”

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.