Understanding Buncombe County’s new Stay Home, Stay Safe Order in Asheville, N.C.

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Late Wednesday afternoon, Buncombe County Public Health issued an update to Governor Cooper’s statewide Stay Home, Stay Safe Order. The original order was given March 27, and expected to last through April 9. The county’s new order took effect when the initial one expired at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Whereas the first order was slated to last through April 9, the amended one has been extended indefinitely and continues to encourage people to only leave their homes for essential services, as well as continue to practice social distancing + limit gatherings.

The county’s declaration largely mirrors the state’s order, but with three key differences

  • Whereas the state order deems any business essential if it is able to practice social distancing, only essential businesses are allowed to operate in Buncombe County. 
  • The state order bans all private + public gatherings of any number of people. Buncombe County will allow weddings + funerals so long as no more than 10 people attend (including staff and clergy) and they maintain social distancing. 
  • Under the state order, motels + hotels are considered essential businesses. However, Buncombe County has informed all motels, hotels, short-term rentals, campgrounds homestays, and beds + breakfasts to cancel any scheduled travel reservations and refrain from scheduling any more unless travelers are doing essential work (i.e. traveling healthcare workers). Get more details here.  

The declaration also expands the definition of essential businesses to include real estate, lawn care + landscaping services, and auto dealers. It also encourages the CDC’s recommendation that folks wear cloth face masks when in public areas where social distancing can be challenging to maintain, such as grocery stores

Buncombe County Emergency Public Health Preparedness Director Fletcher Tove reiterated that these measures are critical with regard to flattening the curve of the spread of COVID-19. The virus has been estimated to peak in mid-April or mid-May.