Coronavirus update: What you need to know in Mecklenburg County

Starting Thursday, liquor stores in Mecklenburg will have shorter operating hours. But, that's not all.
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Editor’s Note: QCity Metro will update this page as we receive news and information relating to Coronavirus in Mecklenburg County. Check back later for updates.

Wednesday, March 18

First the restaurants; now the liquor stores

By now, you probably know that Gov. Roy Cooper ordered restaurants and bars throughout the state to halt all dine-in services.

What you might not know is that buying liquor in the county is about to get funky, too, by order of the Mecklenburg County Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board.

Starting March 19, liquor stores in Mecklenburg will have shorter operating hours — from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. And shoppers won’t be allowed to walk the aisles in search of their favorite spirits.

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Instead, customers will be met at the door by an ABC employee, who will take each customer’s orders. The ABC employee will then retrieve the item(s) and direct the customer to checkout.

In a statement late yesterday, the ABC Board said the no-browsing rule is meant to enforce social distancing. As for the shorter hours, that’s so stores can be restocked and properly cleaned.


Tuesday, March 17

Executive order will ban dining in North Carolina restaurants and bars

Governor Roy Cooper has ordered restaurants and bars throughout the state to cease dine-in services, effective 5 p.m on Tuesday.

It’s the latest attempt to limit large social gatherings and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Businesses can continue offering take-out and delivery services.

Given the likely effect on restaurant workers, Cooper’s order includes a provision that lowers the bar for North Carolina residents filing unemployment claims.

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Read the full story here.


Library branches will close to combat Coronavirus spread

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library will close its branches, effective 5 p.m. today, until further notice. All programs, services, outreach activities, and meeting room reservations have been cancelled.

“This is not a decision we made lightly,” library officials said in a statement. “This pandemic calls for drastic measures in order to slow the spread of the virus.”

To facilitate users:

  • The library will extend checkout and return dates of all materials until branches reopen. (No late fines.)
  • Wi-Fi signals will be extended at each branch to reach the perimeter of each facility, and online chat will be available between the hours of 9 a.m-6 p.m.
  • E-books and e-audiobooks; streaming TV, movies, and music; online classes; and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines will be available to those with a library card and PIN.

Digital resources, library card sign-up and more are all available at cmlibrary.org


COVID-19 Response Fund launches with $2 million donation

Charlotte-based LendingTree announced Monday that it is donating $1 million to a community-wide fund to assist those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Foundation For The Carolinas and United Way of Central Carolinas are launching the COVID-19 Response Fund to support a range of organizations assisting members of the community, particularly those most in need.

As of this morning, the fund had raised more than $2 million. To contribute to the COVID-19 Response Fund, visit HelpCLT.org.


Monday, March 16

CMS will hand out meals during school closures

Starting Tuesday, March 17, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will begin distributing “grab & go” meals to assist families with school-age children during the Coronavirus shutdown.

The district has identified 70 CMS schools where parents can go to get free meals if they are accompanied by a child age 18 or under. The meal packages will be distributed in the schools’ parking lots, Ernest Winston, the CMS superintendent, said Monday.

No ID is required, but children must be present for adults to receive meals. School officials will review plans each week and make changes as needed.

Under an order from Gov. Roy Cooper, public schools in North Carolina will be close for at least two weeks, effective March 16. The free meals are a nod to the fact that, for some low-income families, public schools provide not just educational opportunities but child nutrition as well.

Click here to see the full list of participating schools.


Health Department reports new cases of Coronavirus in Mecklenburg

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris announced three new likely cases of Coronavirus, bringing the county’s total COVID-19 caseload to seven.

The state was reporting 33 cases of Coronavirus, not including the three new cases in Mecklenburg, as of Monday afternoon.

In a bid to halt the spread of the virus, which has killed thousands of people globally, Harris said she had signed an order restricting gatherings of 50 or more people in the county. Harris said the order would not apply to restaurants, churches, airports, office buildings, gymnasiums and many other commercial locations where people routinely congregate. A spokesman with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the officers, for now, would seek voluntary compliance.

“This could change at any point in time,” Harris said. “This is an incredibly fluid situation and we are hoping the community will work with us cooperatively to prevent the spread of this infection in our community.”


McFadden: Without a court order, evictions will continue in Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden says his office will continue to enforce lawful eviction notices, even in homes where residents might show symptoms of coronavirus.

McFadden says his office has no choice.

“The evictions that are executed by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office are court ordered,” his office said in a statement released Monday. “…the 26th Judicial District has announced a limited court schedule for the next 30 days starting on Monday, March 16, 2020, but there are no specific limitations on filings for evictions.”

While some judicial districts have suspended evictions in response to coronavirus, no such order has been issued in Mecklenburg.

McFadden said his staff has been issued protective equipment and will “make the appropriate notification if they encounter individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19 at residences where evictions are being executed.”

Until a court order is issued, he said, his office is “duty bound to fulfill the constitutional and statutory mandates of the Office of Sheriff and will continue to serve and execute civil processes and court orders.”


Sunday, March 15

N.C. courts ordered to postpone nonessential functions

North Carolina courts will stay open for now, but Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has imposed measures to reduce the number of people entering court building.

In a memo on Sunday, Beasley ordered court officials across the state to postpone for 30 days all nonessential functions, including some criminal and civil cases.

“Put simply, it cannot be business as usual for our court system,” she said in the memo. “Non-essential court functions that cannot be accomplished through the use of remote technology must be postponed.”

For at least the next 30 days:

  • In-person meetings will be postponed or cancelled, if possible.
  • When cases or hearings can’t be postponed, court staff will use remote technology.
  • Involuntary commitment hearings, guardianship hearings, and pressing estate administration matters will be conducted. Other matters before the clerk, such as foreclosures and other special
  • proceedings will be postponed.
  • Magistrates will conduct initial appearances and, subject to health
  • precautions perform weddings.
  • Small claims proceedings, including summary ejectments and money owed, will be postponed.

Click here to read Beasley’s memo.


Saturday, March 14

CMS to close days earlier after Gov. Cooper issues executive order

After issuing a state of emergency earlier in the week, Gov. Roy Cooper followed up Saturday with an order that all K-12 public schools in North Carolina must close for a minimum of two weeks in response to COVID-19. Effective March 16, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be closed, in addition to before- and after-school programs.

A day earlier, CMS officials announced school closures for students would begin on March 19. Officials also voted to move up spring break from April 13-17 to its new date of March 23-27.

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