COVID-19 AND THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

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Mecklenburg County Stay at Home Proclamation: What it Means for Construction in Charlotte

On March 23, 2020, Mecklenburg County issued a stay at home proclamation to begin Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 8:00am at the request of Atrium Health and Novant Health, the two largest healthcare systems in the area in an attempt to combat the rapid up-swing of cases in the county without overwhelming critical services. The proclamation is permitted under the North Carolina General Assembly Article 1A of Chapter 166A entitled “North Carolina Emergency Management Act.”

Mecklenburg County already ordered a Joint Declaration of Emergency on March 13, 2020 which restricted access to travel except by those in search of medical assistance, food or other necessities. This Proclamation expands upon that Declaration by restricting residents from leaving their homes unless it is for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate an Essential Business. All of these are defined terms within the Proclamation.

The Proclamation encourages all Essential Businesses to STAY OPEN and to comply with the Social Distancing requirements as defined by the CDC.

Essential Activities are defined as:

  • Health and Safety needs
    • EXAMPLE: Going to the hospital, pharmacy or vet, taking care of others such as family members, children or pets in another household
  • Necessary Supplies and Services
    • EXAMPLE: Groceries, home improvement necessities
  • Outdoor Activities
    • EXAMPLE: Being outdoors with ample spacing between people (Playgrounds are specifically listed as required closure)
  • Essential Businesses or Operations:
    • These are specifically listed in the proclamation and include:
      • Critical Trades
        • EXAMPLE: BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADESMEN AND WOMEN
      • Essential Infrastructure
        • EXAMPLE: CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
        • This category specifically states that it shall be construed broadly to avoid any impacts to essential infrastructure, broadly defined.
      • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain
        • EXAMPLE: CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIERS
      • Hardware and Supply Stores
        • EXAMPLE: Your Mecklenburg suppliers are permitted to stay OPEN
      • Healthcare
      • Essential Government Functions
      • Media
      • Businesses needed for transportation
        • EXAMPLE: Gas stations
      • Financial institutions
      • Mail and Delivery Services
        • EXAMPLE: Post office, UPS, FedEx, Amazon
      • Laundry Services
      • Educational Institutes by means of distance learning only
      • Restaurants with take-out or delivery only
      • Childcare centers
      • Hotels
      • Funerals

Enforcement of this Proclamation will be difficult but allows for the sentencing of anyone violating it to be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor pursuant to G.S. 14-288.20A. This is the statute defining disorderly conduct and can result in up to 30 days community service with no prior record.

Though this pandemic is making it difficult for everyone to function in the manner we did a few weeks ago, this latest Proclamation is helpful for keeping the construction industry running as much as possible by declaring it and Essential Business or Operation. These “stay at home” and “shelter in place” orders are being implemented across states and counties and vary based on the jurisdiction issuing them. It is important to be mindful of what restrictions are in place for the county in which your jobsite sits and to follow the appropriate guidelines.

Read the full order here: https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Documents/Mecklenburg%20County%20Stay%20at%20Home%20Orders.pdf

Author’s note: The information contained in this article is for general educational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.