August 9, 2020

Volume X, Number 222

August 07, 2020

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Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Issues County-Wide Stay-at-Home Order

On March 24, 2020, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, similar to various other localities, issued a stay-at-home order for the next 21 days to contain the spread of COVID-19. The order begins on March 26, 2020, and continues through April 16, 2020, subject to regular review by county health officials and Emergency Management. Mecklenburg County currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg County previously declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020. The stay-at-home order follows a number of preventive measures that were already put in place, including Governor Roy Cooper declaring a state of emergency in North Carolina on March 10, 2020, and subsequently ordering the closure of all K-12 public schools, restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, and entertainment venues.

Mecklenburg County’s order bans mass gatherings of more than 10 people and requires all county residents to shelter in place in their homes, except for essential activities and essential travel, as defined in the order. Essential businesses and essential government functions are exempt from the order. All nonessential businesses are directed to cease operations but are permitted to continue minimum basic operations. Restaurants are permitted to continue providing takeout orders and delivery service. The order also puts additional restrictions on visits to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and assisted-living facilities.

The order will be enforced by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, which will first attempt to achieve “voluntary cooperation” with the order. If voluntary cooperation cannot be achieved, violations of the order will be considered a class 2 misdemeanor.

Essential Activities

The order has a limited list of “essential activities,” which include the following:

  • Seeking medical treatment and other activities related to health and safety

  • Buying groceries and other household/consumer products

  • Exercising outdoors (while engaging in social distancing); playgrounds are closed

  • Caring for family, friends, or pets in another household

  • Working in essential businesses/operations

Essential Businesses and Operations

The following types of businesses are defined as “essential” and are thus exempt from the provisions requiring businesses to cease all nonessential activities.

  • Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety, and first responders

  • Human service operations, such as long-term care facilities and shelters

  • Food, beverage, and agriculture

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and general and business supply stores

  • Charitable and social services

  • Energy

  • Water and wastewater

  • Transportation and logistics

  • Public works

  • Communication and information technology

  • Media

  • Educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating distance learning

  • Gas stations and other business needed for transportation

  • Financial institutions

  • Mail, shipping, logistics, delivery, and related services

  • Laundry

  • Critical trades (building and construction)

  • Manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain

  • Transportation for essential activities

  • Residential facilities and shelters

  • Professional services (including legal, accounting, insurance, and real estate (for appraisal and title services))

  • Childcare centers for exempt employees

  • Hotels and motels

  • Funeral services

  • Hazardous materials

Minimum Basic Operations

For those businesses that are not considered “essential” under the order, they may maintain only “minimum basic operations,” which include the following:

  • The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the physical condition of the business, ensure security, process payroll/employee benefits, and carry out related functions

  • The minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to work remotely

Key Takeaway

Any business with operations in Mecklenburg County should evaluate whether it is an “essential” or “non-essential” business under the order. While the exemption for “essential” businesses is relatively broad under the order, businesses that fall outside of it may need to quickly determine how to limit their activities to only the defined “minimum basic operations.”

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 87


About this Author

Michael D. Ray Labor and Employment Attorney Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart Charlotte, NC

Michael (“Mike”) Ray represents and counsels employers on the full spectrum of labor and employment matters. Mike regularly litigates class and collective actions under federal and state law, and has successfully tried multiple cases to a complete defense verdict in forums across the country. 

Mike has particular experience in high-stakes litigation and strives to help employers reach practical and creative solutions to their problems. Mike understands that there is no “one size fits all” approach to labor and employment matters, and he regularly partners with companies to achieve...

Akya S. Rice Employment Law, Diversity and Inclusion Attorney Ogletree Deakins Charlotte, NC

Akya is an associate attorney in the Charlotte office of Ogletree Deakins where she defends employers in employment-related litigation. Before joining Ogletree, Akya was a commercial litigator in a national firm where her practice included representing clients before the EEOC. Akya also represented clients in federal court against actions brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Akya is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School where she was a Student Writing Editor for the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. She received her Bachelor of Arts from The University of Alabama where she majored in English and Political Science and graduated magna cum laude.

Practice Groups

  • Employment Law
  • Diversity and Inclusion