Bars Shuttered, Restaurants Emptied, and Deadlines Extended to Combat Spread of COVID-19

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Executive Order 118. Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 on Tuesday, directing bars to close and restricting restaurants to selling food only for carry-out, drive through, delivery, and onsite consumption in outdoor seating areas, subject to mass gathering seating restrictions. Restaurants are broadly defined to include permitted food establishments, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food kiosks at airports and shopping centers or educational institutions, food courts, and private or members-only clubs where food and beverages may be consumed on premises.

The order does not affect the sale or distribution of prepared food by grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, gas stations, or charitable food distribution sites. It does, however, bar sit-down food or beverage services within those facilities.

Note: The same day this order was issued, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) entered an Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard that restricted restaurants to carry-out, drive-through, and delivery. The abatement order did not permit onsite consumption in outdoor eating areas. As explained in this frequently asked questions document, restaurants thus were required by the DHHS order to close all seating areas.

Legal authority. During a state of emergency, the Governor may impose by declaration certain prohibitions in the emergency area. G.S. 166A-19.30(c). The Governor has such authority if he or she determines that local control is insufficient to protect lives or property because, for example, the emergency crosses jurisdictional boundaries and local measures are conflicting or uncoordinated in a way that severely hampers protection efforts. Id. The Governor also may take such action when the scale of the emergency exceeds the capabilities of local authorities to cope with it. Id.

When the Governor acts pursuant to this authority, he or she may impose any of the types of prohibitions that local governments may impose under G.S. 166A-19.31. Among those types of prohibitions are prohibiting or restricting the operation of business establishments and other places to or from which people may travel or at which they may congregate. G.S. 166A-19.31(c)(2).

As with Executive Order 117, the Governor has directed that the provisions of Executive Order 118 be enforced by state and local law enforcement officers. Violation of such an order is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Extension of deadlines. Earlier today, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order extending filing deadlines and limitations periods in certain cases. The Chief Justice entered this order pursuant to G.S. 7A-39(b)(1), which permits her to extend deadlines and limitations periods upon a determination that catastrophic conditions exist or have existed in one or more counties of the state.

Today’s order provides that any pleading, motion, notice, or other document or paper that was or is due to be filed in any county on or after March 16, 2020 and before the close of business on April 17, 2020 in a civil action, criminal action, estates, or special proceeding is timely filed if filed before the close of business on April 17, 2020.

The Chief Justice further ordered that all other acts that were or will be due to be done in any county on or after March 16, 2020, and before the close of business on April 17, 2020, in civil actions, criminal actions, estates, and special proceedings are timely if done before the close of business on April 17, 2020.

The order does not apply to documents and papers due to be filed or acts due to be done in the appellate courts.

One comment on “Bars Shuttered, Restaurants Emptied, and Deadlines Extended to Combat Spread of COVID-19

  1. Shea:

    I’ve asked our Chief District Court Judge about his authority to enter an administrative order allowing a blanket extension for payments of fines and court cost. Specifically, our district typically allowed attorneys to negotiate traffic tickets before the clients’ assigned court date. Usually this occurs several days before we have administrative court. The attorneys meet with an ADA and negotiate their clients’ tickets, with the judge assigned to administrative court signing off on the citations containing the charge reductions.

    My question is whether an order can be entered extending the time to pay before the Clerk has to notify DMV about nonpayment. For example, a plea is entered 3-20-2020. Normally the Clerk would notify DMV 40 days later about nonpayment and DMV would start the license suspension process. What authority does a judge have to extend the pay-by date, lets say for 90 days, before DMV is notified of the default?

    Thanks.

    Rich Costanza