Unincorporated Cherokee County will join its largest cities in a declared state of emergency for 14 days through April 9, according to a declaration issued by County Commission Chairman Harry Johnston.

The order applies only to unincorporated areas — land outside city limits — and like other actions taken by local governments is intended to slow spread of the novel coronavirus.

“This order calls for citizens to shelter at home except where it’s truly necessary to go out. It requires the closure of many places where people congregate or have close contact with each other, including dine-in restaurant service,” Johnston said. “It supplements the Governor’s order of March 23, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people unless they can maintain six feet of separation.”

The order states:

♦ Residents are required to stay at their homes “to the maximum extent possible;”

♦ Public or private gatherings of 10 or more people are prohibited. Medical facilities and grocery stores are among a list of exceptions;

♦ Restaurants are restricted to take-out, delivery or drive-through service;

♦ All business are encouraged to allow employees to work from home whenever possible;

♦ “Body care services” businesses such as barbershops, salons, tattoo parlors, and other non-medical businesses that require physical contact with customers are ordered closed;

♦ The order allows county agencies to make emergency purchases of supplies outside the normal bidding procedure;

♦ The order institutes fines up to $1,000 and confinement up to 60 days for violations.

“We’re in better shape than some other counties, and it’s a credit to our citizens, who have mostly stayed home and taken proper care when going out,” Johnston said. “We’re also blessed with great public safety and medical personnel and facilities. We will get through this crisis and be stronger than ever.”

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