New Executive Orders Affect DMV Operations, Prohibit Certain Gatherings of More than 50 People, and Direct Entertainment Facilities and Hair Salons to Close

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The Governor issued Executive Order No. 119 on Friday, which orders the closure of many Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Driver License Offices, the postponement of certain DMV hearings, and the suspension of road tests for newly licensed drivers. Today, the Governor issued Executive Order No. 120, which prohibits mass gatherings of more than 50 people, orders the closure of entertainment facilities and personal care and grooming businesses, and extends the closure of public schools through May 15, 2020.

Executive Order No. 119. Pursuant to G.S. 166A-19.30(a)(1), the Governor ordered the Commissioner of the DMV to:

  • Limit services at all Driver License Offices to appointment only;
  • Close Driver License Offices of insufficient size to maintain social distancing, that do not have sufficient staff to serve only appointments, or that otherwise are unable to maintain normal operations due to the pandemic;
  • Expand service hours at Driver License Offices that remain open;
  • Discontinue mobile services;
  • Postpone for 60 days DMV-related hearings not required by statute to be held within a certain number of days; and
  • Suspend road tests for learner’s permits, provisional driver’s licenses or unrestricted Class C licenses until a determination is made that tests can be conducted with minimal risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The order instructs DMV to the extent practicable to continue to conduct road tests for Class A and Class B licenses and for applicants who must complete a road test due to a medical restriction.

The order also permits DMV and the Department of Public Safety to “interpret flexibly” or waive license renewal requirements for the renewal of commercial driver’s licenses for school bus drivers and activity bus drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license with school bus and passenger endorsements and who are assisting or seeking to assist with emergency-related activities.

These and other provisions of Executive Order 119 were effective Friday, March 20, 2020, and remain in effect for 30 days.

Executive Order No. 120. Today’s executive order amends the provisions of Executive Order No. 117 to prohibit mass gatherings of 50 (was, 100) or more people. Mass gatherings are defined in largely the same manner as before, other than the number of participants covered. The latest executive order does, however, remove restaurants from the list of environments that are excluded from the definition of mass gathering. And it adds child care facilities as environments that are excluded from the prohibition. In other words, the order prohibits more than 50 people from gathering in a restaurant, but does not prohibit more than 50 people from gathering in a child care facility. These amendments are effective at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

The order also orders entertainment facilities without a retail or dining component to close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.  These facilities include:

  • Bingo parlors;
  • Bowling Alleys;
  • Indoor exercise facilities;
  • Health clubs;
  • Pools;
  • Live performance venues;
  • Movie theaters;
  • Skating rinks;
  • Spas; and
  • Gaming establishments.

The order also orders the closure of personal care and grooming businesses as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.  Those businesses are defined to include:

  • Barber shops;
  • Beauty salons;
  • Hair salons;
  • Nail salons;
  • Massage parlors; and
  • Tattoo parlors.

As with the provisions of the earlier executive orders, violation of these provisions is a Class 2 misdemeanor. See G.S. 14-288.20A.  And the order directs state and local law enforcement officers to enforce its provisions. See G.S. 166A-19.30(a)(2) and 19.30(d).

The order further directs long-term care facilities to restrict visitation (again effective Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 5 p.m.) and directs that public schools remain closed through Friday, May 15, 2020, unless extended beyond that date.

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