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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Your 'Stay At Home' Order Questions Answered

Mecklenburg County


A new "stay at home" order takes effect in Mecklenburg County on Thursday at 8 a.m. It requires residents to stay home except for certain essential activities in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


WFAE received many listener questions about the order so we rounded up some answers.



Read the full order from the county and frequently asked questions.


Cabarrus County also issued a stay-at-home order that takes effect Thursday at 5 p.m. Read that order here.


What does this "stay at home" order mean? 

It requires people to stay at home as much as possible and leave only for essential reasons. It also bans gatherings of more than 10 people. 

When does it take effect? How long will it last?

In Mecklenburg, it takes effect at 8 a.m. Thursday and continues until April 16 -- but officials could extend the order if they deem it necessary. In Cabarrus, it takes effect Thursday at 5 p.m. and lasts until April 16.

Can I still go to work?

You can go to and from work if you’re what’s considered an "essential" employee. That includes doctors and medical staff, hospital and medical workers, law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, pharmacy workers and some government employees. It also includes people who work in grocery stores and food service. Click here for the full listof activities/businesses considered "essential."

What else can I do? 

You can go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store. You can also pick up medications from the pharmacy or go to the doctor if virtual or telehealth services aren’t available. County officials urge everyone who leaves their homes to practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from others. 

How will county officials enforce the order?

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said on its website it’s managing the order through voluntary compliance with education and cooperation from businesses and community members. 


Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said at a press conference Wednesday that CMPD does not plan to pull people over or hand out tickets. But Lyles said police could adopt stricter tactics if people are not complying.

The county order said people who violate it could be found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. 

Will restaurants still be able to deliver food? Or carryout? What about delivery grocery services? (Submitted by Katie)

Restaurants will remain open for takeout, delivery or drive-thru. Under the "stay at home" order, you can also receive deliveries from any business that delivers. 

Does the "stay at home" order apply to construction workers? (Submitted by Chris)

Under the order, building and construction are considered “critical trades,” so those workers are not required to stay home. Some other businesses that are considered essential according to the county are plumbers, electricians, exterminators, mail and postal services and laundry services. 

What if I work in another county but live in Mecklenburg?

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said Tuesday if you work in another county and your job is considered non-essential, you should either work from home or stay home.


Mecklenburg County businesses that are considered non-essential also have to comply with this order even if their employees live in other counties. Click here for the full listof "essential" travel options.

What does this order mean for residents who are homeless or unstably housed? (Submitted by Kymber-Leigh)

Homeless residents are exempt from the order but are encouraged to find shelter. Homeless shelters remain open. 

County officials recently announced the county is leasing a former hotel for homeless residents who need to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19.


Click here for a list of options to turn to if you feel unsafe at home.

Can I sit alone outside and read? (Submitted by Susan)

Yes, as long as you’re obeying the six feet rule of social distancing. County parks and greenways are still open but playgrounds are closed.

Click here for the latest coronavirus news on WFAE’s live blog.

Sign up here for The Frequency, WFAE’s daily email newsletter.

What questions do you have about the coronavirus? What has this experience been like for you? Share your questions below.



Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.
Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal