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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert: New NC Executive Order Bans Gatherings Over 50, Closes Some Businesses

March 24, 2020

On Monday, March 23, 2020, the Governor of North Carolina signed a new Executive Order applicable statewide that tightened the ban on mass gatherings to a threshold of 50 people (previous ban was 100), closed certain businesses, and extended the closure of K-12 public schools through May 15, 2020 (the “Order”):

The Order is effective at 5:00pm Wednesday, March 25, 2020 and remains in effect for thirty (30) days unless rescinded or superseded by another applicable Executive Order.

For context, click here for a summary of the NC Governor’s previous Executive Order, issued March 14, 2020:

Here are the highlights of the March 23, 2020 Executive Order:

The following are exempted from the definition of “mass gatherings” under the Governor’s March 14, 2020 Executive Order:

  • Office environments;
  • Factories;
  • Grocery stores;
  • Childcare facilities; or
  • Normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, and shopping malls and centers.

Note: These restrictions are considerably narrower than those under the Proclamation of Emergency Restrictions for Wake County, North Carolina that was issued on March 22, 2020, which generally prohibit all workplace and business gatherings of 50 or more people, unless they fall within certain enumerated essential activities.

  • All “entertainment facilities” that do not have a retail or dining component must close at 5:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020 and remain closed for the duration of the Order, although any retail or dining component may operate solely for that purpose.  This includes:
    • Bowling alleys;
    • Indoor exercise facilities such as gyms, yoga studios, and martial arts facilities;
    • Health clubs and spas;
    • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools;
    • Live performance venues;
    • Movie theaters;
    • Skating rinks; and
    • Gaming establishments ad business establishments that allow gaming activity.
  • The following personal care and grooming establishments must close at 5:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020 and remain closed for the duration of the Order:
    • Barber shops;
    • Beauty salons;
    • Hair salons;
    • Nail salons/manicure/pedicure providers;
    • Massage parlors; and
    • Tattoo parlors.
  • Violations are punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • Visitations at long term care facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, family care homes, mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for the intellectually disabled, are limited to certain situations, such as end-of-life.

Note: unlike the Proclamation of Emergency Restrictions for Wake County that was issued on March 22, 2020, this Executive Order prohibits virtually all visitation.

  • Public schools will remain closed through May 15, 2020.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation, and because risks can be presented in a myriad of ways, it is important to analyze each situation on a case-by-case basis, to determine the appropriate course of action.

If you need help with your planning or working through scenarios that present themselves in your workplace, we are here to help.  For assistance, please contact Morningstar Law Group Associate Attorney Hank Gates ( or 919.590.0393) Morningstar Law Group Partner, Amie Flowers Carmack, ( or 919.590.0394).