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President's Update: Moving to Phase One - Recovery Begins Now

To: Full Chamber Membership
Date: May 7, 2020

While we are not out of the woods yet, and physical distancing remains as important as ever, it's time to lift our eyes toward the horizon.  Dawn is coming.  Recovery begins now. 

 
These last few weeks, we have worked with many of you (150+ Zoom calls) to navigate this crisis and make plans to emerge successful on the other side.  You have shared your stories of hardship: the pain of laying off and furloughing valued employees, closing to the public, financial stress, isolation, anxiety about the future of your organization – and also your successes: EIDL grant deposits, PPP loan closings, successful innovations/pivots/ventures, new lines of business, and new partnerships. 
 
Through this all, you have shown grit and resilience.  Our community has endured with patience and grace.  Our leaders have demonstrated real leadership.  Our front line employees have delivered with courage.  And our healthcare workers have earned a place in history worthy of national holidays.
 
Yesterday marked the two-month anniversary of my first email to you about Covid-19.  Tomorrow (Friday) at 5:00pm, Orange County’s Stay at Home Order will end and North Carolina will move to Phase One of Governor Cooper’s 3-Phase Reopening Plan.  *Note Durham County’s local order remains in place through May 15.
 
In North Carolina’s Phase One, a Stay at Home Order remains in place, but with important modifications – namely removing the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses, allowing most businesses to reopen.  While restaurant dining rooms, high-touch personal care businesses, gyms and movie theaters will remain closed, general retail and other businesses (florists, jewelry, clothing, bookstores, professional offices, etc) will be allowed to open to the public again with occupancy limits and social distancing requirements.  (Look for an email tomorrow with our comprehensive “Guide to Safely Opening and Operating Your Business.")
 
The Governor’s Executive Order has clear instructions/expectations of businesses reopening in Phase One (and a helpful FAQ) – please read them.  If all goes as expected, North Carolina will move to Phase Two on March 22. 
 
The Covid-19 human and economic crisis is not over.  We all have more heartache and hard work ahead before we earn high-fiveable successes, but we are up to the challenge of what’s next: planning for and delivering a strong, equitable, economic and community recovery.
 
Your Chamber is committed to continuing to serve and support you through this crisis and beyond.  As always, your Chamber staff and I are just an email/text/call away and are always looking forward to hearing from/seeing you.
 
Four final things –

  1. Please visit our redesigned Covid-19 Information Hub for resources;
  2. For programming to help you plan, prepare, and endure the reopen and recovery process visit www.carolinachamber.org/events;
  3. Join our regional buy local campaign #LocalStimulUS and accept the Mother’s Day Challenge (spoiler: prizes for your ‘buy local’ haiku, rap, painting, pottery, etc); and
  4. Please take time to read Orange County’s press release on Phase One below (including instruction from local water/sewer authorities on preparing for space to be reoccupied).
 
In grateful partnership,
 
-Aaron
 


MEDIA RELEASE
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           
Contact: Kristin Prelipp, Communications Manager and Public Information Officer

kprelipp@orangecountync.gov or 919-245-2462
LINK TO MEDIA RELEASE

 
Orange County to Begin Phased-in Lifting of Restrictions at 5 p.m. May 8
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. May 6, 2020 ― Orange County, North Carolina’s Stay at Home Order will end on May 8, 2020. Thereafter, the County will fall under the state order. According to Governor Cooper, restrictions will be lifted in three phases, with the first phase beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 8. The state of emergency for Orange County, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough will be extended.
 
Residents have been following stay-at-home orders in place since March 27 to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Through 5 p.m. May 8, the orders permit leaving home only for essential needs, such as food, medicine, outdoor exercise and to provide help to a loved one. 
The governor’s new executive order continues stay-at-home guidance with some modifications. In the first phase of reopening, people will be allowed to leave home for commercial activity and more businesses will be open. Restrictions to encourage social distancing will continue. 
 
Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Penny Rich said, “Strict measures have been in place over the last six weeks to slow the spread of the virus COVID-19, and to protect the public. We will continue to make decisions based on science and recommendations from the state, as well as the Orange County Health Director.”

Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said, “The stay at home order thus far has been a tremendous group effort that has achieved its goal of slowing the spread of the virus in our community. By slowly easing restrictions in phases we can make sure that we have sustained hard evidence that things are getting better.”
 
Easing Restrictions in Phase One
Phase One of the reopening plan allows more businesses to open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and other retailers. Any open stores must provide education to employees to combat misinformation and implement:
  • Appropriate employee and consumer social distancing.
  • Enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Symptom screening of employees.
  • Accommodations for vulnerable workers. 
 
Gatherings will continue to be limited to fewer than 10 people, but parks that have been closed subject to the same gathering limitation will now be allowed to open. Playgrounds will remain closed. Outdoor exercise will continue to be encouraged.
 
In public spaces where 6 feet of distancing isn’t possible, face coverings will still be recommended. Employers will be encouraged to continue teleworking policies, and long-term care facilities and other congregant care settings will continue rigorous restrictions.
 
Offices of the county and towns will not open to the public in Phase One. Timelines for reopening will be announced at a later date.
 
Guidance for Businesses
Highlights of Phase One include:
  • Any retail business may open at 50% capacity. Businesses will be required to practice social distancing, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, screen workers for symptoms and more.
  • Certain businesses will remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, takeout and delivery. 
  • Teleworking will still be encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
  • People may leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open. 
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has created materials to help businesses navigate Phase One, including:
  • Checklist for Business Owners
  • Interim Guidance for Owners, Staff, and Patrons of Businesses 
  • Symptom Screening Checklist
  • Templates to Meet Required Signage
 
Flushing Guidance
Orange Water and Sewer Authority and the Town of Hillsborough have created water system flushing guidance for any facility that has been closed for more than a few days or has been operating at reduced capacity.
 
Water systems and devices in such buildings should be flushed to ensure stale water is removed and fresh water with disinfectant is available. This reestablishes water quality and prevents waterborne illness. It includes all water-using appliances, like ice machines and dishwashers, and all water treatment devices, like filters and water softeners. The disinfectant added to drinking water begins to dissipate over time and pathogens can begin to grow.

Town of Hillsborough, Flush Water Lines in Vacant, Underused Buildings:
Click Here
Town of Hillsborough, FAQ: Preparing Buildings for Reopening, Ensuring Water Quality: Click Here
OWASA, Preparing Your Building for Reopening: Click Here
 
Helpful Links
   
  • Frequently Asked Questions on Cloth Face Coverings: click here
     
Additional Tips to Flatten the Curve
To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Orange County Health Department also encourages everyone to:
 
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings are recommended when you leave the house and may be near other people who are not family or household members.
 
Reliable Information
For the latest information and guidance relating to Orange County’s COVID-19 response:

Aaron Nelson
President and CEO
The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro