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Northampton County enacts curfew

JACKSON – In an effort to continue to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community, the Northampton Commissioners took action here Monday, April 6 to amend their State of Emergency Declaration to add a curfew for the county.

The curfew takes effect at 9 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, April 7) and will continue from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly for as long as Governor Roy Cooper’s “stay at home” order is in effect.

The curfew extends countywide and is for all persons, with exceptions for “those who are expressly exempt as essential businesses or operations as identified within the Governor’s stay at home order.” People will not be allowed on any public street, alley, roadway, or public property during the hours of the curfew “unless in search of medical assistance, food or other commodity or service necessary to sustain the wellbeing of him/herself or his/her family.”

The declaration also gives all Northampton County law enforcement officers and emergency management personnel the authority to enforce and implement the curfew.

The vote to amend the declaration was unanimously in favor after a motion from Commissioner Geneva Faulkner and a second from Commissioner Nicole Boone.

The Board of Commissioners originally enacted the State of Emergency Declaration at an emergency meeting on March 16. The provisions of that declaration stated that citizens are urged to conduct county business by phone or appointment and that county government will continue to operate while staff clean and sanitize facilities as necessary.

At the time of the first declaration, Northampton County had not yet identified any positive cases of COVID-19 within its borders. Since then, as of April 6, the county’s health department has reported at total of 53 positive cases. Five of those have been deemed as “recovered.”

The first case was reported on March 22. One day later, Northampton County Government Offices were completely closed to the public to help limit the spread of the virus to residents and employees. Citizens can still conduct their county business by phone.

At Monday’s meeting, which was held as an electronic meeting distributed to the public via Facebook Live, Board Chair Charles Tyner emphasized the importance of the new measure.

“Some people in Northampton County are not taking this serious,” he said. “We must do all we can do to stop this virus, and to do that, it means we all need to stay home.”

Tyner said he had spoken to all the mayors in the county, with the exception of two he could not get in touch with, and everyone was in agreement to enact the curfew.

He also noted he’d heard complaints about children coming into close contact by still using playgrounds. The towns, he said, are in the process of making sure the playgrounds are closed for now. Walking trails throughout the county, however, remain open as a way for citizens to get exercise while still following social distancing protocols.

Tyner also praised the Health Department Director Andy Smith, Dr. Frank Taylor, and the health department staff for their hard work so far. He directed County Manager Charles Jackson to make sure the department continued to have what they needed to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Boone echoed those same sentiments, and also reminded people to stay at home. If someone is experiencing symptoms, she said they can call the health department at 252-534-5841 instead of leaving their home and risk spreading the virus to others.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards also recognized people such as first responders and many others don’t have the luxury to stay at home because they have to continue doing their essential jobs.

“This is life or death. This is serious,” Tyner said.