As visitors return on Saturday, May 16, Dare County officials reminded the public that vacations and visits to the Outer Banks will be “different this year” in their Friday afternoon update.
Information for returning visitors, as well as additional updates on Park Service facilities and county services for Friday, May 15, are as follows.
Department of Health & Human Services
- State Cases of COVID-19
In North Carolina, there are currently 17,129 cases of COVID-19 in 99 counties. There have been 641 fatalities in NC associated with COVID-19. Currently, the state is reporting 492 hospitalizations across the state from COVID-19 illness.
- County’s Positive Test Results
The number of positive COVID-19 tests in Dare County is 22. Of those 22 Dare County cases, 17 have recovered or are asymptomatically cleared, 1 died and 4 are active. Of the 4 active, 1 is hospitalized and 3 are recovering in home isolation. For the most up to date information on COVID-19 cases in Dare County and the State of North Carolina, visit darenc.com/covid19.
Unrestricted Entry to Dare County Beginning May 16
Beginning Saturday, May 16 there will be no restrictions for access to Dare County, including the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo; Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland The Currituck County Outer Banks and Ocracoke Island will also have unrestricted access.
In a video released this afternoon, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard addresses the local community and visitors in anticipation of the lifting of entry restrictions tomorrow. The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/IMhKVRdexCA.
Weekend Beach Conditions
Beach goers should anticipate hazardous ocean conditions this weekend as a storm system moves off the coast. To receive NWS beach forecast and conditions updates via text message send “Join OBXBeachConditions” to 30890.
Statewide Restrictions in North Carolina Under Phase 1 —
Dare County is currently operating in accordance with orders from the state of North Carolina under Phase 1 of the state’s three-phased plan to lift restrictions. Under Phase 1-
- People are allowed to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.
- Small outdoor gatherings are allowed, but gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.
- Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms.
- Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and specific social distancing requirements from the state.
- While mass gatherings remain limited to 10 or fewer individuals, according to Executive Order 138, a house, household, place of residence, or current place of abode, where more than ten (10) people reside is not considered a mass gathering.
- When you leave the house remember the three W’s. Wear. Wait. Wash. Wear a face covering. Wait 6 feet apart and avoid contact with others. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.
Vacationing During COVID-19
As visitors return to Dare County beginning Saturday, May 16, it is important for everyone to understand that vacations and visits to the Outer Banks will be different this year as we all adapt to COVID-19.
Beaches remain open but it is absolutely critical for all beach patrons to follow social distancing guidelines. Social distancing does not stop when you hit the sand. Stay at least 6 feet apart from others outside of your household at all times. To slow the spread of COVID-19, in the water and on the beach, spread out and away from others. As you spread always keep ocean hazards in mind. Know where lifeguards are located and how to get help. To get the latest beach forecast and condition updates via text message send Join OBXBeachCondition to 30890.
Some changes that visitors should anticipate include:
- At this time, restaurants are only permitted to provide take out, drive-thru, or delivery. No seated service, indoors or outdoors, is allowed. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Order of Abatement.
- Community and public pools and spas are closed.
- Lodging accommodations are implementing different protocols and procedures to help ensure the safety of guests and staff.
- Like many places throughout the nation, certain types of products remain difficult or hard to find. There may also be purchasing limits for in-demand products such as paper products and cleaning supplies.
- As more businesses begin to open under the state’s order, please be mindful of signage explaining changes to operations due to COVID-19. Check social media and websites for updates on how our local businesses are adapting in response to COVID-19.
- To protect the health and safety of customers and employees this summer, some local businesses may require patrons to wear a cloth face covering inside their facilities.
- While face coverings are a crucial part of the first line of defense against COVID-19, they should be worn and used in partnership at the same time as proper hygiene and social distancing protection measures. Practice the 3 W’s.
Public Health Guidance for Local Businesses
As the state moves through the three-phased plan to lift restrictions throughout the summer, guidance from the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DC DHHS) and public health messaging for local businesses will be updated regularly at DareNC.com/COVIDbusiness.
Mobile food units and pushcarts must be properly permitted by Dare County or another County. If from another County, then business owners must supply a copy of their permit and most recent inspection report to be compliant. Permits and inspections should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, call 252.475.5080 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Reliable Information Sources During 2020 Summer Season
Moving forward, updates regarding the response to COVID-19 in Dare County will be issued by the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DC DHHS).
DC DHHS Director Sheila Davies will continue issuing weekly video updates on Tuesdays with key metrics for Dare County. The four key metrics – weekly number of tests, laboratory-confirmed cases, positive tests as a percent of total tests, and COVID like illness surveillance, provide important information on the intensity and spread of COVID-19 in our community.
In addition, a weekly update will be issued by DCDHHS on Fridays with press releases being distributed and posted online as needed. Visit darenc.com/covid19 for the most up to date information, including resources for local businesses and answers to frequently asked questions.
Parks and Recreation Spring & Summer Update
All spring Parks & Recreation programs are canceled with the exception of the dance program. Dance has tentatively been rescheduled to begin in September 2020 and more information will be available as soon as possible. Participants registered for spring programs may elect to receive a full refund or an account credit for future activities. Participants must contact their division office by Monday, June 1 to receive a refund. After June 1, all remaining participants will receive an account credit.
Summer registration will open June 1 for camps in July and August. There will be no camps held in June 2020. An updated newsletter will be released by Wednesday, May 27 with available camps with the new guidelines. Online registration is strongly encouraged. If you are unable to register online, you have the option to fax or email the registration form to the recreation office and then call with payment.
Dare County Board of Commissioners Meeting
The Dare County Board of Commissioners will hold their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 18 at 5:00 p.m. at the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo. The meeting will be streamed live and can be accessed on the Dare County YouTube Channel. Public comments may be presented to the Board by sending an email prior to or during the meeting to email@example.com.
During the May 18 Commissioners meeting, there will be a Public Hearing on Temporary Provisions for Restaurants and Mobile Food Units. Comments for the Public Hearing may be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the purpose of staying healthy while following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and Dare County public health authorities, outdoor areas at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial are open. As services are limited, the National Park Service urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.
Beach users should stay at least 6 feet from each other and not create a gathering of 10 or more people in a single location. Additionally, vehicles on the beach should be parked roughly 20 feet apart. For current beach access information, go to: http://go.nps.gov/beachaccess. Off-road vehicle permits will only be available to purchase online at www.recreation.gov as ORV permit offices are currently closed.
Beginning May 22, the following services will be available:
- Restrooms at the Fort Raleigh Visitor Center, Wright Brothers pavilion, Cape Hatteras beach and sound-side parking areas and visitor centers (visitor centers will not be open).
- Camping, with limited capacity will be available at Cape Hatteras campgrounds; however, campsite reservations and payments will only be available online. Staff will not be available to take payment at the campground and site availability will be limited – campers must use www.recreation.gov for making campground reservations and payments.
- Trash services in some locations – everyone is encouraged to “pack it in, pack it out” as trash service will remain limited.
Beginning May 23, the following services will be available:
- Lifeguard services at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, and Ocracoke Beach.
With public health in mind, the following facilities and activities remain closed:
- Bodie Island Lighthouse climbing
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing
- Fort Raleigh, Wright Brothers, and Cape Hatteras Visitor Centers and bookstores
- The Lost Colony outdoor drama at Fort Raleigh
- The Avon Pier
- In-person off-road vehicle permit sales offices; permits are available 24/7 at www.recreation.gov. Permits should be printed and placed in vehicle.
- In-person interpretive programs
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The National Park Service will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.