Outer Banks open to visitors; COVID-19 restrictions still in place

Published 8:25 am Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dare County and its incorporated towns, Currituck Outer Banks and Ocracoke Island opened to visitors Saturday, May 16 by dropping restrictions to access.

However, statewide restrictions are in place for reducing the spread of COVID-19. North Carolina is operating under Phase 1 of a three-phase process. Under Phase 1:

– People are allowed to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.

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– 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 the Governor’s 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 Ws: 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 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,” states Dare County Bulletin 61 issued Friday, May 15.

– 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, spread out and away from others in the water and on the beach. 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.

This weekend and the first part of next week, beachgoers should anticipate hazardous ocean conditions as a storm system moves off the coast.

Visitors should anticipate these additional changes:

– At this time, restaurants are only permitted to provide take out, drive-through 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.

– 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, be mindful of signage explaining changes to operations due to COVID-19. Check social media and websites for updates on how local businesses are adapting in response to COVID-19.

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