Over 1 in 10 Charlotteans admit to breaking stay at home order

Over 1 in 10 Charlotteans admit to breaking stay at home order
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Almost two weeks after Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay at home order, some Charlotteans say they’re knowingly breaking it.

Last week, we sent a survey to Agenda subscribers asking them about life during coronavirus with questions covering topics like working from home, social distancing, and finances. More than 4,000 people responded.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they’re taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, but when asked about the reasons they leave home, many admitted to breaking the stay at home order.

Survey says: More than 1 in 10 respondents said they’re still visiting with friends, family, or neighbors, an activity considered non-essential under the order.

“I still feel guilty about it and know it is part of the problem,” one respondent said.


“I understand the importance of social distancing, but will admit I’m not perfect,” another said. “It’s also hard to keep six feet away from neighbors and friends you see while out for a walk, everyone just wants to say hi! (And pet my dog.)”

Others admitted to leaving home for non-essential reasons like leisurely motorcycle rides, buying supplies for non-essential home improvement projects, and playing tennis with friends.

Parks and greenways are open for walk-in use only, meaning parking lots are closed. Use of playground equipment and sports courts is also prohibited. Golf courses are still open, and six percent of respondents say they’ve left home to play golf.

Concerns: On March 29, county health director Gibbie Harris voiced concern over crowded outdoor spaces where we’re seeing people gathering in groups larger than ten. “They’re allowed to go out and exercise but we have emphasized that people need to be six feet apart. Social distancing is critical in this situation,” Harris said about crowded parks. “You couldn’t social distance even if you wanted to.”

On Tuesday evening, county manager Dena Diorio said restricting parking at public parks and greenways is a way to reduce crowding. Further action, like closing parks altogether, is a possibility if people continue to gather in large groups.

Over the weekend, a few dozen people gathered in Romare Bearden Park. Some played volleyball, others sunbathed, a few set up a picnic. Many were within six feet of one another.

Have you broken the stay at home order?

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Enforcement: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say they’re enforcing the order by first educating and warning those in violation. Arrests and charges are being used as last resorts. Those who violate the order could face a Class II Misdemeanor.

This past weekend, there were a number of arrests and citations for violators: Protesters were arrested Saturday outside A Preferred Women’s Health Center for breaking the mass gathering ban. After asking a group of 50 to leave, 12 stayed. Those 12 were charged and later eight were arrested for refusing to leave. The incident gained national attention after U.S. Senator Ted Cruz called the arrests unconstitutional.

A Charlotte spa was cited Thursday for staying open. A manager at Cool Cove Day Spa was charged for breaking the order after police gave multiple warnings that the non-essential businesses had to close.

Quickly altering the way we live and limiting almost all social interaction isn’t easy. But the less compliant residents are in following the order, the longer it could stay in place. And worse, the more people will be physically, financially, and mentally affected by the coronavirus.

Why? The state’s stay at home order follows guidance from medical professionals who say social distancing is the best way to “flatten the curve” and limit community spread. 

North Carolina is one of 41 states with stay at home orders in place. Neighboring South Carolina is among the nine that don’t. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has suggested a national stay at home order should be put in place.

Stay at home order explained: Some Charlotteans may not fully understand the stay at home order so we’re here to help. Until April 30, all residents should only leave home for essential needs like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or going for a walk. Only if you’re an essential employee are you allowed to go to work. We’ve compiled common questions into an FAQ for you.

Join us: This coverage is made possible and free to all (no paywall) with the help of Agenda Members. If you’d like to support more reporting like this, become an Agenda Member.

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