GASTONIA, N.C. — All residents of Gaston County will be under a stay at home order effective Friday at 5 p.m. in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

The order will continue until April 16.  Social gathering have been reduced from a maximum of 50 people to more than 10.

“The message is simple: If you don’t need to be out in public, don’t,” said Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck.  “Go to your grocery store, pharmacy, carry out restaurant. Those are everyday needs. But other than that, stay home.”

The stay at home order comes after a resident of Gaston County tested positive for the coronavirus through community spread.  As of Thursday at 3 p.m. there were 11 positive cases of COVID-19 in Gaston County.

Residents can call the stay at home community hotline with questions at 704-866-3170.

“I would appeal to all of the citizens of Gaston County to take this seriously and follow the orders our local government has given to reduce the likelihood that you and your loved ones and your neighbors would become infected,” said Dr. Todd Davis, Chief Operating Office of CaroMont Health.

Gaston County is less restrictive on manufacturing, than similar orders that are in effect in  Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.  Gaston County is not requiring a letter or a permit to state a person works for an essential business. 

“If you work for an essential business, just go to work,” Philbeck said.

Under the stay at home order, residents are still permitted to:

  • Shop at grocery stores
  • Visit pharmacies
  • Shop at hardware stores
  • Visit medical services and doctors, but only if telehealth is not available
  • Visit restaurant drive-thru and take-out
  • Care for others
  • Exercise, such as visiting a greenway, park, or walking the dog so long as 6 feet of separation is maintained
  • Shop for necessary supplies
  • Receive home deliverers

During the stay at home order, residents cannot:

  • Go to work, except for those residents who maintain essential jobs
  •  Attend social gatherings

These businesses are considered essential during the stay at home order:

  • Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders
  • Food, beverages, and agriculture
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Communication and information technology
  • Media
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial institutions
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Critical trades
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises 
  • Supplies to work from home
  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations 
  • Transportation
  • Home-based care and services
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Professional services (I.e. accounting, insurance, etc.)
  • Childcare centers, for specific employees
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services
  • Community-based government operations, essential functions including human services
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Hazardous materials

Gaston County opened a coronavirus call center to help answer residents' questions about the virus.  The call center's number is 704-862-5303, and it will be locally staffed weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. After hours calls will be directed to the state hotline, which can also be reached directly at 866-462-3821. 

WCNC Charlotte’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit wcnc.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Carolinas specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 704-329-3600. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning by subscribing to the Wake Up Charlotte newsletter here.

The state of North Carolina has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 866-462-3821 or read the frequently asked questions.  In South Carolina, for general questions about the coronavirus, call the DHEC Care Line 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.