State Agencies Urge Local Governments With High COVID Case Rates to Do More
October 21, 2020
On October 20, 2020, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen and Department of Public Safety (DPS) Secretary Erik Hooks jointly sent a letter to County Managers and Board Chairs in counties experiencing or at risk of experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates asking these authorities to consider more restrictive measures than the current statewide response to COVID-19.
The letter suggests these counties could impose a civil penalty or fine for violating local ordinance or issue a local emergency proclamation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of local restrictions include imposing a higher state of emergency standard than the Governor's most recent Executive Order that:
- Impose fines for businesses that do not enforce the mask requirements;
- Establish lower mass gathering limits;
- Curtail alcohol sales earlier than 11:00pm;
- Close high risk venues such as bars; and
- Limit restaurant service.
The letter also urged support for Local Health Directors when exercising their authority to issue and enforce imminent hazard abatement orders against entities whose actions, including failure to comply with the Governor's Executive Order, present an imminent hazard to the community.