COVID-19 Update: NC Department of Labor Offering Virtual Consultations

Date: April 01, 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Department of Labor’s Consultative Services Bureau is providing its virtual consultative visits to small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the state. While the virtual visits can’t replace on-site consultation, they are allowing the bureau to continue:

• Helping small businesses identify and eliminate workplace hazards.
• Providing advice on complying with OSHA standards.
• Training and educating workers.
• Helping employers establish and improve written safety and health programs.

The consultation program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services for small and medium-sized business. The program is separate from the Occupational Safety and Health Division’s compliance bureaus, and its safety and health consultants do not issue citations or penalties. 

To learn more, call the Consultative Services Bureau at 919-707-7846 or visit the NCDOL website.

Stay-at-home order

Governor Roy Cooper on Dec. 12 announced a modified stay-at-home order to take effect on Friday, Dec. 11. It will be the first such restrictions since Memorial Day.

The latest order will close non-essential businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and gyms at 10 p.m. They could reopen at 5 a.m.

In addition, there can be no alcohol sales after 9 p.m. — two hours earlier than the previous curfew.

The modified stay-at-home order will expire on Friday, Jan. 8.

Vaccine this month

Gov. Roy Cooper said on Dec. 1 that if the FDA approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the state should receive 85,000 doses as early as Dec. 15. He said the vaccine would be free regardless of whether someone has health insurance.

Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses taken 21 days apart. Health care providers will be the first to receive the vaccine.

Tighter mask requirements

Governor Cooper today issued additional COVID-19 safety measures on Nov. 23 to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country.

Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and runs through Friday, Dec. 11. 

NC remains under Phase 3 until Dec. 11

North Carolina remains under Phase 3 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions until at least Dec. 11. Under Phase 3: 

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators. 
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, such as arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less. 
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less. 
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only. 
  • The limits on mass gatherings is 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.  
  • An 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption remains in effect in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars.
Phase 2 underway

On Friday, May 22, North Carolina moved into Safer At Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions. The phase runs through at least Friday, June 26 unless changed or canceled. Although the state’s overall key indicators remain stable, the continued increases in daily case counts signals a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned. Click here to learn more.

N.C. transitions to Phase 1 of reopening plan

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 138 on Tuesday, May 5. It modifies North Carolina’s stay-at-home order and transitions to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8, at 5 pm. Certain businesses remain closed as the state continues battling COVID-19. 

The order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and will be required to direct customers to stand 6 feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, screen workers for symptoms, and more. The Order allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open. Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, take-out, and delivery. Click here to learn more.

Cooper signs COVID-19 relief bills

Governor Roy Cooper signed two COVID-19 relief bills into law on Monday, May 4: Senate Bill 704 and House Bill 1043.

The relief package, which was passed unanimously, includes almost $1.6 billion in relief measures for critical expenditures related to public health and safety, educational needs, small business assistance, and continuity of state government operations. Of this amount, $1.4 billion has been appropriated and $150 million is set aside in a reserve fund for future local government needs. The package also contains key policy changes to support North Carolinians as the state battles COVID-19.

Read about it here.

Governor tightens social distancing measures

Governor Cooper signed an executive order on April 9 that tightens social distancing requirements for businesses and speeds up the process to get benefits to people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. Under the order, retail stores that are still open are required to limit the number of customers allowed inside to 20% of posted capacity limits. Learn more here. 

Stay-at-home order 

Governor Cooper on March 27 issued an executive ordering North Carolinians to stay at home for 30 days, until April 29. Executive Order No. 121 takes effect on Monday, March 30, at 5 p.m. It also reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people. Read the order here.

Additional restrictions

On Monday, March 23, Gov. Roy Cooper announced additional restrictions on businesses to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Cooper said businesses including gyms, movie theaters, and hair salons should close as soon as possible. He also closed all school buildings until May 15. Click here to read the executive order.

State resources

State officials have created a website with the latest information on North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19 virus. Click here to visit the website.

National information

As small businesses grapple with the coronavirus, NFIB is dedicated to being their voice. We are continuing to track the latest from healthcare officials and congress. Click here for the latest information.

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