Here’s What Visitors to the Outer Banks Need to Know

Posted By on May 15, 2020

The Outer Banks will collectively lift all restrictions on entry for visitors starting this weekend, and the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services has provided an updated rundown of all the safety guidelines related to Covid-19 that are currently in place and exactly what visitors should expect when they arrive for vacation this summer.

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; as well as Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland, the Currituck County Outer Banks (Corolla), and Ocracoke Island.

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 (Phase 1), 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.

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.

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 for the most up to date information, including resources for local businesses and answers to frequently asked questions.

Weekend Beach Conditions Forecast

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.

You can watch Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard address the local community and visitors in anticipation of tomorrow’s lifting of entry restrictions in the video below.


Posted by Matt Artz

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