Governor’s Executive Order— Stay at Home, North Carolina

NC Capitol

By James Forrest

Governor Cooper released an Executive Order for the State of North Carolina on Friday afternoon that goes into effect on Monday, March 30th, 2020, at 5 pm.  This type of order, requiring residents to stay home, is unprecedented in NC’s recent history.

The order requires everyone to stay home for the next 30 days except for (a) essential activities, (b) governmental operations, or (c) “essential” businesses.  

Below is an executive summary of the Order.  Your specific situation may have unique circumstances/factors, so please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding the Order and how it may impact your venture.

  1. The following categories of activities qualify as “Essential Activity” and are therefore exempted from the Order:  health and safety activities, procuring supplies, outdoor activities/exercise, worship, caring for others, receiving goods and services, authorized work (see Section 2 below), and volunteering.

2 A lengthy list of “essential” businesses (which are therefore allowed to continue operations subject to certain limitations) are laid out in the Order.  See Section (2)(C)(Sections 1 through 30) of the Order specifically for the complete listing.  Even if you don’t see your type of enterprise included in the 30 “essential” listed categories, any business that can operate with appropriate social distance between employees, and between employees and customers (except at the point of sale) are deemed “essential” (and thus permitted) as well.

In any case, all businesses must direct workers to work from home where possible, interact with customers online where possible, require handwashing, regularly clean high-touch surfaces, and comply with social distancing requirements (see Section 2(E) of the Order).

All businesses that are not essential are limited to conducting “minimal business operations” (i.e., a minimum and limited amount of activity to preserve enterprise value, ensure continuity of the business, etc.).   See Section 2(G) of the Order for further details.

Keep in mind also that local county orders may be more restrictive than the Governor’s Order.  In other words, the Governor’s Order doesn’t automatically knock out the county orders and many counties are putting more restrictive rules in place for its residents.  Failure to comply with the Order is a Class 2 misdemeanor and could result in civil liability for businesses.  Frequently asked questions regarding the Order are here.

The Forrest Firm team is working remotely across the state.   Please reach out if we can be helpful (  See our new COVID-19 Resource Center for more legal information on a myriad of relevant topics.