Starting Monday, stores in North Carolina are required to take additional steps to limit the risk of community transmission during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
According to NC Governor Roy Cooper, any currently open store that sells something — grocery stores, big box retailers, hardware stores, ABC stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, car dealerships, etc. — must follow new social-distancing and cleaning mandates or they can’t stay open.
Here’s a breakdown of the new rules:
The new executive order limits the number of people allowed inside stores at one time, which means fewer people crowding the aisles, but also, if you go at a busy time, you may have to wait in line outside.
The new executive order dictates that stores are limited to 20% of the stated fire capacity, or they can have 5 persons per 1,000 square feet. This is called Emergency Maximum Occupancy.
Stores must have personnel at the door to limit access once the store has Emergency Maximum Occupancy.
When Emergency Maximum Occupancy is reached and people are lined up outside stores, the store must clearly mark lines six feet apart where people can stand while waiting.
Once you’re inside, stay far apart
The CDC has repeatedly said the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to maintain a distance from others. If you must go out, stay six feet apart from other people.
But anyone who has been inside a store lately knows that not everyone follows that rule. (Note: Experts say it’s OK to quickly pass others in an aisle, but you should not linger near other shoppers or workers, contemplating which cut of meat looks better. Likewise, if someone is looking at the chicken, stand back and let them finish before crowding in.)
Stores must now mark six-foot distances at any place where people must wait in a line, such as at a checkout stand, pharmacy drop-off and pick-up areas, or deli counters.
▪It’s also required now that retail establishments enforce social-distancing in these areas, to make sure people are actually standing on the lines to keep them separated. When you see a line on the floor, that’s where you stand.
Stores should be kept clean
One of the first moves retail stores made when all of this started was toannounce enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures, particularly on high-touch areas like doors, shopping cart handles and key-pads.
One trouble spot in most stores continues to be cart handles, which in reality, despite stated store policies, are sometimes cleaned and sometimes not. (Always carry your own wipes and hand sanitizer, butdoctors say don’t wear gloves.)
The governor’s order now makes this extra cleaning mandatory.