Stay at Home FAQ
What if I have questions about health concerns related to COVID-19?
Call Gaston County’s COVID-19 hotline (also staffed Monday through Friday 8-5) at (704) 862-5303.
Why are we doing this?
To slow the spread of COVID-19 and help flatten the curve of the number of people getting infected with the virus. We want to prevent our health system from seeing a spike in cases it cannot adequately handle.
What is your legal authority to do this?
That can be found in G.S. 166A-19.31, which is also part of North Carolina Emergency management, which authorizes counties to put prohibitions and restrictions in place for its people, businesses, travel and other activities or conditions reasonably necessary to maintain order and protect lives or property during the state of emergency.
How long is the order in place?
Until April 29 because of the order issued by the Governor. The Board of Commissioners will review the data of cases before then and make a determination if the Stay At Home order will need to be extended further.
Is Gaston County Government closing?
No. Some buildings are closed to the public. On Monday, March 30, the county will move to utilizing key personnel, and placing non-essential staff on paid administrative leave for up to 7 weeks. This is to practice social distancing as much as possible. County staff and services are still available by phone and online. Public safety operations are continuing unaffected.
Is there a curfew?
Not at this time.
What are essential activities?
- Those for health and safety
- To get needed supplies/services
- For outdoor activities (walk, jog, golf, run, bike)
- To take care of others
- For work for essential businesses/operations
What are essential businesses and work?
- Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders
- Food, beverages, and agriculture (manufacturing, production, processing, cultivation including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, distribution of animals and good for consumption, providing food, shelter, and other necessities for animals)
- Stores that sell groceries and medicine (including liquor stores)
- Organizations that provide charitable and social services (businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations including food banks, when providing food and shelter, social services, and other necessities for life for economically disadvantaged or needy individuals, individuals who need assistance, and people with disabilities).
- Water and wastewater
- Transportation and logistics (including airports and ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft)
- Public works
- Communication and information technology
- Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation (gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities and bicycle shops and related facilities)
- Financial institutions (banks, currency exchange, consumer lenders, including but not limited, to payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and future exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products)
- Hardware and supply stores
- Critical trades (building and construction – plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses)
- Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services (post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels)
- Laundry services
- Restaurants for consumption off-premises (in-house delivery, third-party deliver, drive-through, curbside pick-up, and carry-out)
- Supplies to work from home
- Supplies for essential businesses and operations (see #14 in the order for details)
- Transportation (airlines, taxis, public transportation, vehicle rental, logistics)
- Home-based care and services (home-based care for adults, seniors, children, people with disabilities)
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, restricted to appraisal and title services)
- Childcare centers (for specific employees – first responders, healthcare workers, public health, etc)
- Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain (see #20 for details)
- Hotels and motels
- Funeral services
- Other community-based government operations and essential functions including human services
- Other community-based human service operations
- Critical manufacturing
- Hazardous materials
Are car sales businesses allowed to operate?
Yes. They are included as being essential.
Are car washes essential businesses?
Those that require employees to do hand-washing, vacuuming, etc., must close. Self-service car washes are allowed to continue to be in service.
Do I need a permit to go to work?
No. If you work for an essential business, go to work.
I live in Gaston County but work in a different county. Can I still go to work?
Yes. If your business is in another county and is still allowed to operate under that county’s rules, you may go to work.
I live outside of Gaston County. How does this affect me?
If you work in Gaston County, then your business/employer must comply with this order. You are allowed to travel through Gaston County and conduct essential activities within Gaston County and to return home.
CHURCH: Can religious institutions continue to stream live services?
Yes – faith-based organizations are still allowed to live stream services provided that they abide by the restriction of 10 or less people physically on-site, while practicing proper social distancing practices.
CHURCH: Are drive-in services OK?
Yes, as long as people stay in their cars, with the windows up, to provide for proper isolation from a group.
PARKS & REC: Am I allowed to go outside to exercise?
Yes – but maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all others.
PARKS & REC: What are the requirements for social distancing?
- Designate 6-foot distances
- Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products
- Separate operating hours for vulnerable populations
- Online and remote access
PARKS & REC: Are parks open?
Playgrounds, no. Parks themselves, yes – though some municipalities like Belmont have gone ahead and closed their parks. Look for signs or check local municipal websites before going to see the status of your local park. While the order allows for people to get outside to exercise, avoid playing in groups, practice social distancing and wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible after touching any hard surfaces.
PARKS & REC: What about other amusement centers?
All places of public amusement where people may gather, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, recreation centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs shall be closed to the public.
Can I visit a loved one in a hospital/nursing home/etc.?
Owners, administrators, operators, staff, contractors, and volunteers of nursing homes, long term care and assisted living facilities are prohibited from allowing a person to enter the facility and visit a resident unless each of the following criteria are met: (1) the visitor is an adult; (2) the resident has not already had a visitor that day; and (3) the visit takes place in the resident’s room.
***This prohibition does not apply to end of life situations.
ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES: Can I get arrested for violating this order?
Gaston County Police is continuing to enforce the order through education, dialogue, and seeking voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses. If voluntary cooperation is not achieved GCPD is equipped to enforce these restrictions through citations or misdemeanor charges.
Any person violating any prohibition or restriction imposed by this order shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor in accordance with G.S. 14-288.20A.
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND TRAVEL: What does this mean for non-essential business?
Non-essential business and operations must cease – all businesses and operations in the County, except Essential Businesses and Operations are to cease all activities within the County except minimum basic operations. Businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND TRAVEL: What are minimum basic operations?
The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the businesses’ inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.
The minimum necessary activities to facilitate the employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND TRAVEL: Am I allowed to travel?
You are allowed to travel for purposes of essential business and essential activities.
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND TRAVEL: What is considered essential travel?
- Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential governmental functions, essential businesses and operations, or minimum basic operations.
- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
- Travel to or from education institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and other related services
- Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction
- Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement
- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel
NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS AND TRAVEL: What do I do if my business is considered non-essential but is requiring me to report to work?
Confirm that your company is indeed considered non-essential. If you have questions, you can call the help line at 704-866-3170 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Violations of the Stay at Home order can be reported to the Gaston County Police Department.
I have a shared custody agreement. Do I continue to follow that?
Yes, continue to follow court orders unless otherwise directed by the courts.
I'm preparing to move - can we still do that?
Yes, moving services are considered essential.
As outlined in the Stay at Home Orders - Essential Businesses and Operations for critical trades, Landscape companies are permitted to continue operations. For the same reasons of providing safety for individuals or property, tree-trimming operations are also allowed to continue. They are not to have face-to-face interactions with homeowners and must be paid remotely via mail or online resources. Landscapers also must practice social distancing and must operate as individuals not in close proximity to others.
Are pet groomers considered essential?
Pet stores that have supplies for your animals will be open, but pet groomers are not. As a groomer, if you want to apply as an essential business, the state has a new website to visit and a new form to fill out at https://www.ncdor.gov/home/ncdor-actions-covid-19/covid-19-essential-businesses. Derek Keener in the Gaston County Economic Development Office is available to help answer questions and guide businesses through that process. Call him at 704-718-1629.
How do I report large gatherings?
Use Gaston County Police Department’s non-emergency line: 704-866-3300.
Can I get my taxes done?
Yes, tax preparation businesses can continue to operate. Tax deadlines at the federal level have been pushed back to July 15. We have not seen that yet on the state level.
Can I go boating or fishing?
Yes, as long as you maintain proper social distancing.
What is the difference between Gaston County's Order and the State Order?
Very little. The orders have essentially the same restrictions and allowances. The biggest difference is the state order extends to April 29.
What if I want to apply for an exemption as an essential business?
Even if you already started this process, the state has a new website to visit and a new form to fill out at https://www.ncdor.gov/home/ncdor-actions-covid-19/covid-19-essential-businesses. Derek Keener in the Gaston County Economic Development Office is available to help answer questions and guide businesses through that process. Call him at 704-718-1629.
How can I get help through the Gaston County CARE Plan?
The application process starts Monday, March 30, for the $1 million in funding for 7 programs through our Department of Health and Human Services. The application and number to call are available at GastonGov.com/careplan.
What are the rules for funerals and weddings?
Gaston County is matching state guidance on this. Weddings must follow the 10-person maximum. Funerals can allow up to 50, but must practice social distancing in keeping attendees 6 feet apart.
What guidelines must car dealers follow under the order?
1) Adherence to the following requirements specified in Executive Order 121 for those businesses classified and Essential Businesses and Operations:
- Requires COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations, to the maximum extent possible, to direct employees to work from home or telework.
- Requires COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations, to the extent practicable, to maintain the following Social Distancing Requirements:
a. Maintaining at least six (6) feet distancing from other individuals;
b. Washing hands using soap and water for at least twenty (20) seconds as frequently as possible and numerous times throughout the day or the use of hand sanitizer;
c. Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces; [Dealership will assign at least one employee whose responsibility is solely to regularly clean high-touch services throughout the dealership.]
d. Facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible. [Completion of as much of the selling process online and through the mail as legally permissible.]
In addition to the Governor’s Executive Order 121, the following other practices will be implemented:
2) Motor vehicle sales conducted by appointment.
3) Posting online whether a facility is open and how best to reach the facility and continue services by phone or remotely.
4) Designate six-foot distances with signage, tape, or by other means, six-foot spacing for employees and customers to maintain appropriate distance and maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals.
5) No more than 10 people, including customers and employees, in the showroom at any one time.
6) All customer lounges closed.
7) Tables available outside the showroom for customers who wish to conduct transaction outside of showroom.
8) Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers.
9) No test drives permitted unless expressly requested by the purchaser and only conducted in adherence to the following requirements:
a. Vehicle are completely sanitized with COVID-19 approved products after every test drive with a card stating time it was driven and when it was sanitized.
b. No sales representative riding in vehicle with a customer.
c. Customer to wear gloves that are provided by dealership while test driving vehicle.
d. Seat mats to be used for the test drive.
e. Vehicles test driven will not be driven by another potential customer for 72 hours.
10) To the extent legally possible, conduct off-site / home delivery of vehicles.
11) Adhere to CDC recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace, including the measures referenced above as well as:
- Identify customers and employees who have viral symptoms and prohibit them from entering the dealership.
- Require what the CDC calls “respiratory etiquette,” including covering coughs and sneezes
- Provide customers and employees with tissues and trash receptacles.
- Prohibit employees from using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, work tools and equipment.
- Prohibit hand shaking and other physical contact between individuals.
- Post handwashing signs around the dealership.