Hyde County today followed Dare County’s action yesterday by restricting new visitors to Ocracoke starting at 5 a.m. Thursday, March 19. Photo: C. Leinbach

The Hyde County commissioners today declared a state of emergency starting at 10 a.m. for all of Hyde County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visitor restrictions to Ocracoke will begin at 5 a.m. Thursday (March 19). This restriction only applies to new visitors to the island and does not apply to mainland Hyde.

This is not an evacuation order and the restriction does not apply to workers, residents, vendors or property owners, according to a press release.

The county will release more details on reentry guidelines by the end of the day, but the NC Ferry Division said that starting Thursday, visitors with reservations for the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry routes will have their reservations canceled and will be issued refunds. Only residents, property owners, workers, vendors and service providers will be allowed to board Ocracoke-bound ferries. Reservation holders may call 1-800-BY-FERRY to secure their refunds.

Ocracoke Commissioner Tom Pahl, seated, and Justin Gibbs, Hyde County Emergency Services director, participate from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter meeting via videoconferencing. Photo: P. Vankevich

The state of emergency will allow county officials to implement any restrictions needed to help restrict the transmission of COVID-19 and also allow for any emergency funding mechanisms from state and federal sources.

Dare County on Tuesday enacted a state of emergency and restricted new visitor access, though exempting Hyde County residents.

As per the state of emergency, the following restrictions are now in place for Hyde County:

Mass gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, and we strongly discourage any gatherings of more than 10 people.

Restaurant operations will be restricted to pick up and delivery orders only.

The Hyde County Senior Center is closed until March 31.

The Hyde County Adult Day Activities Program is closed until March 31.

In coordination with the Hyde County Health Director and in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all persons are urged to maintain social distancing, approximately six feet away from other people whenever possible, and to continue to wash hands, use hand sanitizer and practice proper respiratory etiquette, including coughing into their elbows.

We also encourage all Hyde County citizens and prospective visitors to postpone discretionary travel to and from the county, said the press release.

Video conference Hyde County Board of Commissioners emergency meeting on March 18, 2020. Photo: P. Vankevich

Hyde County offices will remain open. However, in the interest of the safety of our visitors and staff, face-to-face contact will be limited. Before visiting Hyde County offices, please check the website or call us to verify if services can be received online or over the phone.

Hyde County will continue to monitor this rapidly evolving situation.

County officials are working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Emergency Management, and the CDC for guidance as we move forward. As of 8 a.m. today no individuals in Hyde County have tested positive for COVID-19.

During this pandemic, it’s extremely important to access reliable sources of information.

For regularly updated information on COVID-19 in Hyde County visit the Public Health page at the Hyde County Health Department website hydehealth.com/public-health/ or follow their social media outlets.

You can also find reliable information on COVID-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website www.ncdhhs.gov/.

A few Ocracoke businesses are open while some closed voluntarily and some are still rebuilding. Photo: C. Leinbach
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