Monday, 23 March 2020 19:21

110K file for unemployment, more expected after other businesses are shut down

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Nail salons are among the businesses ordered to close by Wednesday since they are unable to practice social distancing. Nail salons are among the businesses ordered to close by Wednesday since they are unable to practice social distancing. Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — More than 100,000 North Carolinans have filed for unemployment amid the coronavirus shutdowns and more will follow suit in the coming days.

Governor Roy Cooper reported in a press conference Monday that the state saw 110,000 unemployment claims within the past week, after an executive order shut down bars and limited restaurants to take-out or delivery only.

Locally, Hudson Brothers Deli and Sly’s Family Diner are closed and Pattan’s Downtown Grille, while still offering take-out orders, laid off more than 30 employees.

To help those staffers out, Tim and Julia Pattan started a GoFundMe account so the community could “give the community a chance to show their support and concern directly to our employees.”

“All funds raised from this GoFundme campaign will be evenly distributed among all of our employees,” Julia Pattan said in a March 19 Facebook post. Tim and I have felt the support this week as many of you have ordered take-out and we can sense the genuine concern for us and it is very humbling for us.”

Last week’s order also loosened restrictions on applying for unemployment.

Cooper’s executive order issued on Monday reduces the previous cap on mass gatherings from 100 to 50, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested last week.

The mass gatherings mandate excludes: normal operations at airports, bus and train stations; medical facilities; shopping malls and shopping centers; office or factory environments; grocery stores; and child care facilities.

Along with the reduction comes the mandated closure of more businesses.

“Along those lines, this order closes gyms, movie theaters, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs and other similar facilities, Cooper said. 

“We want you to close as soon as possible,” the governor continued, adding that the order takes effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.

“Because of their inability to conduct social distancing, this order also closes hair and nail salons, barber shops and massage therapists,” he said. “As with the other facilities, we encourage you to close before that date if you can.”

Other businesses being forced to close include tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, skating rinks and spas.

Violaters could be found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Grocery stores will remain open, as will restaurants with their mandated limitations, the governor went on to say.

“And I ask again — please do not overbuy at the grocery store,” Cooper urged. “I’ve had almost all of the grocery store officials on the phone and they continue to tell me that supply lines are open. They are also hiring former restaurant employees.

“And I appreciate the people who are continuing to grow and supply our food.”

These measures, along with closing schools until May 15 have been to “flatten the curve” and prevent a spike in cases that would overwhelm the medical system, according to Cooper.

“I know that these actions cause hardship and heartache for a lot of people,” he said. “But they’re necessary to save lives.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster took even more extreme measures on Monday.

His executive order bans the gathering of three or more people outside their homes and gives law enforcement the discretion to determine if those congregations pose a threat to public health.

Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, will be fined up to $150 or jailed for up to 30 days.

"This weekend, we saw large crowds gathered on beaches, on sandbars, and in parking lots,” McMaster said in a statement. “We are facing a dangerous and deadly enemy and this type of behavior is both irresponsible and selfish. 

“Law enforcement asked for clarification as to how this existing law applies during this state of emergency. I have included it in an executive order to make it clear that law enforcement has the ability to disperse groups of people who pose a risk to the public's safety and to the safety of others."


Last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020 19:30