Even Further Easing of NC COVID Restrictions

The title of Executive Order #209 issued today (April 28, 2021) pretty much sums up the trend in North Carolina: “Removing the Outdoor Face Covering Requirement, Relaxing Restrictions on Gatherings, and Extending the Capacity and Social Distancing Measures of Executive Order #204.” (For more details on prior Executive Order #204, see NC Easing Covid Restrictions.) The new Executive Order contains additional easing of COVID restrictions to begin this Friday, April 30 at 5 pm.

It’s difficult to summarize lengthy Executive Orders, and this particular Order is 31 pages with 10 appendixes for different venues/businesses. Here are some HIGHLIGHTS that may be of interest to North Carolina homeowner and condominium associations. (Note: I’ve tried to bold significant changes, and capitalized words are both capitalized and defined in the Executive Order.)

General Recommendations. All North Carolinians are encouraged to follow the recommendations for reducing the spread of COVID-19 issued by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Those include wearing a face covering over the nose and mouth inside all public settings, maintaining “at least six (6) feet social distancing from other individuals with the exception of family or household members,” use hand sanitizer, wash hands, etc. FYI, some of the prior orders’ emphasis on regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces has been removed in accordance with recent CDC guidance.

Face Coverings. The new Order goes into greater details about wearing masks and states: “For the avoidance of doubt, this Section generally requires North Carolinians to wear Face Coverings in public places, while indoors. This Section also authorizes law enforcement to enforce Face Covering requirements against individuals who fail to wear a Face Covering indoors in any public setting without any applicable exception. Where a question might arise as to whether an individual who is able to wear a Face Covering in North Carolina is required to wear one in a certain context, this Executive Order seeks to promote the wearing of Face Coverings.”

Restrictions on Gatherings. Executive Order #209 increases the maximum gathering numbers of people for indoor gatherings to 100 and for outdoor gatherings to 200 “at the same time in a single confined indoor or outdoor space.” Such requirements should be taken into account when planning in-person association meetings.

Face Coverings and Exercise. Those exercising must wear Face Coverings as defined in the Executive Order if indoors and not within their own home, except for certain exceptions such as trouble breathing, dizziness, lightheadedness; wearing exercise equipment; or the activity may cause the Face Covering to become wet.

Indoor or outdoor pools. Indoor and outdoor pool facilities must do all of the following:

  1. Outdoor Pools. Limit Guests to no more than 100% of the maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (or, when the fire code number is not known, 24 guests per 1000 square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads, and in the water);
  2. Indoor Pools. Limit Guests in the pool to no more than 75% of maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (or, when the fire code number is not known, 18 guests per 1000 square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads, and in the water);
  3. Events with Spectators have different requirements;
  4. Follow the “Core Signage, Screening, and Sanitation Requirements” in the Order, which has a changed requirement to “clean surfaces once a day, prioritizing high-touch surfaces. If there has been a sick person or an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past twenty-four (24) hours on-site at the establishment, clean and disinfect the space using an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

The Executive Order specifically notes that the pool provisions apply to “shared pools in commercial settings or at residential complexes,” and not to family pools at homes.

Fitness and Activity Facilities. Appendix F notes 8 requirements for fitness and activity facilities, including:

  1. Frequent use of hand-washing and hand sanitizer for workers and Guests.
  2. Clean (instead of the prior “disinfect”) all shared equipment between users or provide cleaning materials with instructions for guests to clean equipment before and/or after use.
  3. Mark 6 feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and high-traffic areas.
  4. Post Emergency Maximum Occupancy limits of rooms
  5. Take Social Distancing Measures, including spreading out both equipment and guests. Fixed equipment should be spread out or taped off so that Guests are at least 6 feet apart.
  6. Follow all NCDHHS guidelines.
  7. Follow the “Core Signage, Screening, and Sanitation Requirements” in the Order.

Again, the modifications take effect on Friday, April 30 at 5 pm. The Order provides the easing of restrictions will remain in place through at least 5 pm on June 1, 2021. The full order with its many details can be found at Executive Order #209.

For any questions about North or South Carolina regulations or using/opening amenities in your community, contact one of the community association attorneys at any of our Law Firm Carolinas offices.

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