At a March 27 press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay-at-home order, effective throughout North Carolina at 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, that will stay in effect until Wednesday, April 29 — nearly three weeks longer than the duration of Buncombe County’s recently enacted mandate.
“Yes, ABC [Alcoholic Beverage Control] stores are considered essential retail. You’re welcome,” deadpanned Fletcher Tove, Buncombe County’s emergency preparedness coordinator, during a March 26 press briefing on the county’s COVID-19 response.
According to the Buncombe County mandate, all lodging facilities are required to close except those that provide one of the following services: “work-related accommodations, facilities housing persons experiencing homelessness and any facility being used for isolation and quarantine purposes.”
The new order, which will take effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, orders “all individuals anywhere in Buncombe County to stay at home,” with limited exceptions for essential activities, through 6 a.m. Thursday, April 9.
For individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the fund could pay for “life-essential needs” such as utilities and mortgages. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees could receive low-interest loans of up to $10,000 to sustain operations until they could reopen or get additional support from the federal government.
Area hospitals have taken somewhat differing approaches to the question of whether to stop performing elective surgeries and other medical procedures. There are worries nationally about whether there will be enough personal protective gear like masks and gloves for health care workers, but hospitals in the Asheville area say they have good supplies for now.
Unlike other local instances of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, explained Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, county health workers had been unable to trace at least two cases to a specific source — suggesting that the infection is spreading within the county at large.
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a March 17 executive order making it easier for people statewide who have lost their jobs in the wake of business closures related to the coronavirus epidemic to get unemployment benefits, but many workers will find the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow to be comparatively skimpy.
Buncombe County’s revised emergency declaration restricts gatherings to 10 people or less, a stronger mandate than the current statewide prohibition of gatherings of over 100 people. The mandate also requires gyms, fitness centers and exercise facilities, indoor pools, spas, movie theaters, live performance venues and arcades to close until further notice.
Due to cancellations and closures among music venues, restaurants, performing arts spaces and other businesses — some of the newspaper’s biggest advertisers — about half the revenue that supports Xpress’ community-focused reporting has vanished in a matter of days. Publisher Jeff Fobes asks you to chip in and help Xpress through this challenging time.
When West Village Market owner Rosanne Kiely proposed Bouras turn a corner of the space into a diner, Bouras says, “I gave into it. I kept trying other things, but I’ve always gravitated back to the kitchen.”
Buncombe County has opened two drive-through testing sites, which will be open Wednesday, March 18, from 2-6 p.m. The first site is Biltmore Church at 35 Clayton Road in Arden, and the second is UNC Asheville at One University Heights.
Sixth time’s a charm? Asheville City Council approved new affordability conditions for the RAD Lofts mixed-used development slated for the city’s River Arts District, the latest in a string of conditional zoning amendments approved by Council since 2013.
The county is now more than halfway through year one of a $3.6 million annual commitment for its Early Childhood Education and Development Fund. Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who chairs the committee that oversees the fund, says the initial investment is already paying dividends.
Announced at the N.C. Press Association’s annual banquet in Raleigh on Feb. 27, Xpress’ wins also included a second-place finish in the General Excellence category for the state’s largest community newspapers and individual awards for five staff members.
“The good news — if you’re someone who wants to see the hotel tax law changed — is that all parties seem to be in agreement,” Newman told Xpress. “They want to see the law changed, but at this point, we’re not on the same page about how to change it.”