High Country Association of REALTORS News

Update on Phase One opening in Watauga County

Clarity was offered Wednesday for Watauga County businesses and residents after both North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners took steps to define how Phase One of the easing of Stay-at-Home order restrictions will look both statewide and locally.

Tuesday evening, Gov. Cooper announced Phase One of the easing of restrictions will take effect Friday at 5 p.m. Among the details of the modified Stay-At-Home order:

  • Retail businesses can open at 50 percent capacity with frequent cleaning and social distancing.
  • Parks and trails are encouraged to reopen.
  • Certain businesses (gyms, salons, bars, theaters, etc.) will remain closed.
  • Restaurants continue to be carry-out and delivery only.
  • Gatherings limited to 10 people but gathering outdoors with friends is allowed.
  • Employees are still encouraged to telework when possible.
  • Childcare centers that follow strict cleaning requirements can open for working parents or those looking for work.
  • Worship services of more than 10 people allowed outdoors if socially distanced.

People are also encouraged to practice safe social distancing during this time, including wearing a cloth face covering when in public, avoiding close contact by distancing six feet apart, and washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer. 

Earlier Tuesday, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to fully comply with the Governor’s three-phase easing of restrictions, which remains consistent with its support of past State orders.

The Commissioners also approved the continuation of a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period for residents arriving to the county from other areas which will stay in effect until June 5, or two weeks after the start of Phase Two of the easing of restrictions (Phase Two is expected to begin May 22, unless public health circumstances dictate otherwise).

Watauga County’s short-term rental suspension will remain in place until June 5, or two-weeks after the start of Phase Two. Hotel and short-term rental partners will have time to implement new safety guidelines and cleaning procedures and begin taking reservations with the hopes of an early June re-opening date.

The measures also allow businesses opening during Phase One and at the onset of Phase Two to have ample time to implement and adjust health and safety procedures, hire and train staff on new guidelines, and ramp up inventory at a time when businesses across the country will be doing the same.

“The intentional support of our entire business community shown by residents over the last several weeks is a major part of the reason why many are still open today,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “Our community will have the opportunity to help these businesses slowly and safely open their doors again and become adequately prepared to serve our summer visitors in the ways they have been accustomed over years of traveling to the High Country.”

“To achieve these goals, we must remain vigilant as a community in our practice of proper social distance standards. These actions today have given us the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. Our community has performed well in the social distancing metrics to this point, and as we are allowed more freedom to move, it is important to stay attached to these practices, for the sake of all of our interests,” he said.  

“Simply put, our community can ill afford another shutdown. Together we can make today’s encouraging news a truly positive first step in the right direction.”

Phase One plan