Ocracoke is quiet on March 31, and debris along the road has been removed. Photo: C. Leinbach

From our news sources

Raleigh–Cooper today ordered utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment.

Executive Order No. 124 applies to electric, gas, water and wastewater services for the next 60 days.

Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules.

“This action is particularly important since tomorrow is the first of the month, and I know that’s a date many families fear when they can’t make ends meet,” Cooper said. “These protections will help families stay in their homes and keep vital services like electricity, water and communications going as we Stay at Home.”

Additionally, the order encourages banks not to charge customers for overdraft fees, late fees and other penalties. Landlords are strongly encouraged in the order to delay any evictions that are already entered in the court system.

North Carolina Emergency Services Director Mike Sprayberry urged people not to call 911 if they see social distancing not being observed.

He said anyone can call 211 to get help with food and other resources.

To receive COVID-19 updates, he said people can text “covid” to 898211.

Cooper also was joined by Attorney General Josh Stein to announce the order and he thanked companies that have already voluntarily announced policies to prevent shutoffs, including Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, AT&T and local electric co-ops, among many others. Today’s order follows the governor’s Stay At Home order, which is in effect until April 29.

Read an FAQ about the order here.

The N.C. Department of Revenue also announced expanded tax relief measures today, waiving penalties for late filing or payments of multiple state tax categories. Learn more about this tax relief here.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service’s website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus includes daily updates on positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

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