Dare County Announces Plan for Gradual Lifting of Entry Restrictions

Posted By on April 21, 2020

The Dare County Control Group has announced the first phase of plans for reopening the Outer Banks, including lifting restrictions on entry for non-resident property owners, following the recent Stay at Home order from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper due to the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The current plan is to allow non-resident property owners to enter Dare County starting on Monday, May 4, phased in alphabetically throughout that week. The county’s current Stay Home – Stay Healthy order has been extended to May 22, and face masks are now required to be worn by everyone going anywhere in public. There is no timeline yet for when visitors will be allowed back into the county, as most of the current restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

You can read complete details below.

Plan Rationale

With careful consideration of the science, trends, data, epidemiology and resource availability, Dare County, in consultation with the Dare County Control Group, has prepared a plan to address the lifting of restrictions on entry to Dare County while protecting the safety of our community. The first phase will allow entry of non-resident property owners. It is critical for everyone to adhere to the safety measures and regulations specified in this plan.

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of changes that have improved the county’s position regarding COVID-19, including:

  • The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Dare County have been stable for over a week. There have been no new cases in that time.

  • Syndromic surveillance indicates no immediate increase in respiratory illness or COVID-19 related symptoms.

  • Testing is now readily available in Dare County in accordance with current NC DHHS guidelines.

  • Testing turnaround, the time between specimen collection and test results, has dramatically decreased over the past few weeks. Results are now received within 24-72 hours.

  • The Dare County Department of Public Health has increased capacity for contact tracing.

  • Dare County Emergency Management has confirmed with essential business operators, primarily grocery retailers, that with advance notice they have the ability to increase delivery of essential goods. As the number of shoppers increases, people may experience a greater wait time to enter a store due to restrictions on the number of customers allowed entry which is based on square footage of the store. Shoppers should also expect to see changes in product availability as supply chain demand fluctuates across the nation.

  • Medical surge capacity has gone from planning to implementation locally, regionally and across the State of North Carolina.  Based on current COVID-19 case numbers and future projections, patients can be transported to a healthcare facility that can provide the higher level of care as needed.

Plan Details

Dare County will open to non-resident property owners who have a valid entry permit with matching government issued ID according to the schedule below:

  • Beginning Monday, May 4 at 6:00 a.m. – Entry begins and is ongoing for non- resident property owners whose last name begins with A – I

  • Beginning Wednesday, May 6 at 6:00 a.m. –  Entry begins and is ongoing for non- resident property owners whose last name begins with J – R

  • Beginning Friday, May 8 at 6:00 a.m. – Entry begins for non-resident property owners whose last name begins with S – Z

The following restrictions will remain in place and must be followed:

  • Dare County’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy order has been extended to May 22, 2020.

  • North Carolina’s Stay at Home order – in place until at least April 29, 2020.

  • If you are sick, stay home.

  • Mass gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer individuals.

  • Travel only for essential needs.

  • Only have direct contact with members of your immediate household.

  • All essential retailers must adhere to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 131 and comply with restrictions on the number of individuals allowed entry based on square footage of space.

In addition to the above restrictions, individuals are now required to wear a mask or cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

All non-resident property owners should bring their own supplies to sustain themselves in their homes as much as possible, including groceries, prescriptions, paper products and other essentials.

Decisions regarding access to Dare County for visitors will be addressed at a future date to allow for necessary syndromic surveillance and monitoring of resource availability.

Entry Permitting Process

Entry permits can be obtained at www.darenc.com/entry. Following the instructions provided, non-resident property owners can receive permits by applying online. Permits will be issued to the two “Primary Owners” listed on the tax record for each property. 

To apply for a permit, applicants will need the property parcel number and the driver’s license information for each Primary Owner. All permits are sent to the email address provided by the applicant as a PDF file. The permit will come from [email protected] and may be treated as spam by your email service provider. Depending on system demand, permits may take several hours to be sent. Before calling to check on permit status, please check your spam folder. All permits issued with an expiration date in 2020 remain valid. Permits should be printed for easy display along with the permit holder’s driver’s license or government issued ID at the checkpoint.  For those not able to obtain an entry permit, non-resident property owners will be allowed entry by presenting a current tax bill or parcel data sheet AND matching government-issued identification card. Questions on entry can be sent to [email protected]renc.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Dare County lifting restrictions for non-resident property owners later than the Currituck County Outer Banks? 

Dare County has developed a plan for gradual lifting of restrictions on entry based on the science, trends, data, epidemiology, and resource availability. We do not have information on what criteria Currituck County used to make their decision on entry.

What will I need to get through the entry checkpoint?

An entry permit and corresponding identification.  Please have the permit and ID ready to place against the glass for examination by law enforcement officers at the checkpoint.  Business entry documentation remains unchanged.

Will law enforcement check the identification of every person in the vehicle? 

Yes, only those listed on the permit with matching government issued ID will be allowed entry, along with their minor children.

My property is listed on the tax records as an LLC. How do I obtain an entry permit?

When applying for a permit, enter the names and driver’s license information for individuals representing the LLC as primary property owners.  To facilitate approval, use the upload documents feature in the application process to provide supporting documentation that identifies the applicants as members of the LLC.  Once you apply you will be notified by email from [email protected] that the names don’t match and that the application is under review.  Once the documentation has been verified, permits will be sent to the applicant’s email address as a PDF file from [email protected].   Depending on processing time, permit approval may take 1-3 business days.

Will essential businesses be stocked to provide groceries and necessary supplies?

Retailers have indicated they do not foresee challenges providing essential items.  The variety of products and availability will fluctuate especially when consumers buy more than necessary to meet immediate needs.

Is there a stay at home order in place?

Yes, the County’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy order has been extended through Friday, May 22, 2020 and the Governor’s Stay at Home order is in effect through April 29 and may be extended.

Should I bring supplies with me?

Yes. 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.

Will restaurants be open?

On March 18, Governor Cooper announced an executive order closing restaurants and bars for dine-in customers but allowing takeout and delivery orders to continue.  The community is encouraged to continue to support local restaurants and businesses. Order takeout and delivery from your favorite restaurants.

The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of restaurants offering takeout and delivery services. Call ahead for specific menus and hours of operation. This list is subject to change.

Are businesses open?

There are no changes to the orders in place to allow essential businesses to be open. Essential businesses must adhere to the policies set forth in NC Executive Order No. 131 released on April 9, 2020

Can we go outside or to the beach?

Yes. In fact, it is good for you to go for walks or sit in the sunshine. Just remember to stay at least six feet away from others at all times and continue to take protective measures to maintain your personal health and well-being.

At this time, beaches remain open. Beaches will be monitored to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to and that there are no gatherings of more than 10 people. If guidelines are not followed, some beaches and public areas may be closed.

Do I have to wear a mask or cloth face covering when in public?

Individuals in Dare County are now required to wear a mask or cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at a low cost.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Information on masks and children during COVID-19 is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The cloth face coverings described are not surgical masks nor N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

When will visitors be allowed entry to Dare County?

Decisions regarding access for visitors will be addressed at a future date following necessary syndrome surveillance and monitoring of resource availability after non- resident property owners return and state orders are updated.

I have additional questions about returning to Dare County, who can I contact? 

You may call the COVID-19 Call Center at 252.475.5008. The Dare County COVID-19 Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Questions on entry can also be sent to [email protected].

To date (as of 4/21/20), Dare County has reported 15 positive test results for COVID-19. Of the 15 individuals who have tested positive, 14 have recovered/or are asymptomatically cleared (meaning they are seven days post testing with no symptoms) and one died.

As of this writing, North Carolina does not meet the federal guidelines for reopening, which include a 14-day period of declining Coronavirus cases and hospitals returned to pre-pandemic conditions.

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Posted by Matt Artz

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