Safer at Home Order FAQs

Stay At Home FAQsPreguntas frequentes en Español aqui.

Below are frequently asked questions about the Governor’s extension of the state-wide “Safer at Home” Order.

Additional Resources:

Phase 2 of the Governor’s “Safer at Home” order loosens some restrictions on activities and allows for more movement, but recommends that you stay home to keep yourself and others safe.

The extension of the Governor’s order requires wearing a face covering in all indoor and outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, whether public or private. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

It’s still important to stay home if you are sick. High-risk individuals are urged to stay at home and travel only for absolutely essential purposes.

Phase 2 began Friday, May 22, 2020 and has been extended through July 17, 2020 unless changed or canceled.

The Governor’s extended Safer at Home requires people to wear face coverings while out in public where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people is not possible.

This applies to individuals, workers, customers, and patrons in:

  • Indoor and outdoor public spaces
  • Retail businesses
  • Restaurants & breweries
  • Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses
  • Child care facilities, day camps, and overnight camps
  • Government & private offices
  • Public transportation, including taxis and ride-sharing services
  • Manufacturing and construction settings
  • Migrant farm or other farm settings
  • Meat or poultry processing plants
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Healthcare settings

There are some exceptions where face coverings are not required, as listed below:

  • Children under the age of 11
  • Those with medical or behavioral disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a face covering
  • While alone at home, in a personal vehicle, or in your private office
  • While inside your home or another person’s home
  • While around members of your immediate household
  • For participation in a religious ritual
  • While eating or drinking
  • While swimming or exercising strenuously
  • While actively communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired
  • When giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience
  • When wearing a mask is an immediate safety risk, either by workplace safety guidelines or when it impedes visibility in operating a car or equipment
  • Temporarily for identification purposes at a government or medical facility

If you cannot afford or don’t have access to a face covering, you can use household items like a scarf, bandana, or t-shirt to make one. Learn how to sew or make your own non-sewn face covering here.

Some employers and establishments may provide you with a temporary face covering, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Cloth face coverings should be washed daily, either in a washing machine with hot water and detergent or by hand. It can be included with your regular laundry. Remember to take in account the cloth used in your mask for proper drying and laundering methods.

Cloth face coverings can be washed by hand by soaking in a bleach solution, with instructions outlined by the CDC here.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and municipal Police Departments are enforcing all orders.

Written citations will be assessed to businesses and organizations that fail to enforce required face coverings for employees and patrons. Individuals in a business or organization that refuse to comply with face covering requirements or to leave the establishment may be found in violation of trespassing laws.

Residents who wish to report noncompliance with orders should contact their local municipal law enforcement agency. Remember that 911 should not be called for these violations. 911 should only be called in emergency situations.

Phase 2 lifts or changes the following restrictions:

  • Allows restaurants to open for dine-in service at 50 percent capacity that can comply with specific requirements (including disinfection of common spaces and physical distancing of customers)
  • Allows salons, massage, and personal care (beauty, hair, nail, and tanning) businesses to open at 50 percent capacity that can comply with specific requirements (including disinfection of equipment, face coverings, and physical distancing)
  • Allows tattoo parlors to open at 50 percent capacity that can comply with specific requirements (including disinfection of equipment, face coverings, and physical distancing)
  • Allows outdoor and indoor swimming pools to open at 50 percent capacity, with recommended guidance for public safety
  • Allows social gatherings indoors while following physical distancing with up to 10 people, and allows outdoor gatherings while following physical distancing with up to 25 people
  • Opens day camps, overnight camps, and child care facilities to all families

City of Wilmington, and the towns of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach may write orders specific to their jurisdiction with further restrictions in place. Residents and business owners should follow the local orders and refer to these municipalities for order compliance. Remember, that the most restrictive order is the order to follow.

Phase 2 still limits or restricts the following:

  • Bars and night clubs remain closed
  • Entertainment facilities, including movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, arcades, bingo parlors and other gaming establishments remain closed
  • Fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms remain closed. This includes any indoor fitness facilities like spas, exercise facilities, fitness studios, martial arts facilities, dance studios, trampoline and rock-climbing facilities, roller skating rinks, ice staking rinks and basketball courts.
  • Teleworking is encouraged
  • Physical distancing, hand hygiene, and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced, including staying at least six feet apart
  • Playgrounds remain closed
  • Open retail businesses must meet certain requirements to ensure the safety of their employees and customers
  • Visitation continues to be banned at long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations.

Yes, New Hanover County has developed an overview for safe reopening, and you can view that document here.

In conjunction with this resource, the county’s Public Health team is also offering expertise to restaurants, businesses, and organizations to talk through individual processes and safety measures. Business owners can access that resource by calling the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800. If needed, the Public Health team can also deploy to meet with restaurants or businesses on site (maintaining all protective measures), to talk through processes that facilitate cleanliness and physical distancing.

Additional resources have been developed by the local, state, and national organizations, including:

New Hanover County Public Libraries are offering curbside service at all four libraries, but the library buildings will remain closed to the public. You can reserve books online or by phone. Library hours for curbside will be: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

The Cape Fear Museum remain closed through Phase 2 under the Governor’s order.

Airlie Gardens, the Arboretum, and public parks are open, but under the Governor’s order playgrounds remain closed.

The Order imposes three additional classes of rules for retailers:

Emergency Maximum Occupancy – Retailers are now limited to fifty percent (50%) of the stated fire capacity. Retailers must abide by and enforce this maximum and place notice of the Emergency Maximum Capacity in a conspicuous place.

Physical-Distancing Markings – Retailers must now mark six foot (6′) spacing at cash-register lines and in other “high-traffic areas for customers” inside the establishment. The Order doesn’t define high-traffic areas, but it lists deli counters and areas near high-volume products as examples.  Retailers who have met or expect to meet or exceed their Emergency Maximum Occupancy, must mark six foot (6′) spaces in a designated line outside their establishment.

Cleaning and Disinfecting – The Order mandates frequent and routine cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas utilizing a disinfectant approved by the EPA for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). The Order does not define “frequent” or “routine.”

Yes. Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are open. In addition, Masonboro Island is open. Requirements for mask usage, physical distancing practices, and limits on mass gatherings are still in effect.

As with anywhere you go, physical distancing is required. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

Yes, public and private boat ramps and marinas in New Hanover County are open. This includes boat docks and wet slips. Please follow these recommendations:

  • Maintain distance at boat ramps or fuel docks
  • Avoid using boat ramp docks while other people are on them
  • Do not have anyone other than immediate family on your boat
  • Do not tie up/raft up to other boats- keep your distance on the water
  • Do not congregate on any sandbar or island

Kayaks, paddle boards and other non-motorized boats are still permitted to launch from public or private boat ramps.

Hotels, motels and short-term rentals are no longer restricted by the county, but each municipality may choose to write orders specific to their jurisdiction.

People can and should leave their homes to receive medical care.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, first call ahead to your physician or the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 to help determine if you need to seek medical care.

If you feel unsafe in your home, please seek out a local shelter.

Local shelters are allowed to remain open within the Order. If you are experiencing abuse or are in danger, resources are available to you through the New Hanover Disaster Coalition.

Yes, but county playgrounds are still closed to maintain limitations on mass gatherings. There should be no more than 25 people congregating outdoors or engaging in activity per the Governor’s order. Walking trails, parks preserves, skate park, bike park, and open spaces are open and available to use.

As with anywhere you go, physical distancing is required. Individuals are required to wear a face covering where physical distancing is not possible and are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.


While religious functions, funerals, and weddings may continue with no restrictions on the number of people who may attend, receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the indoor gatherings of no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of no more than 25 people.

Individuals are required to wear a face covering where physical distancing is not possible and are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.

Health: 1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3500 • Fax 910-798-7834 • Human Services Fax 910-798-7824
Environmental Health: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-6667 • Fax 910-798-7815