Sanford Mayor Chet Mann told The Rant on Monday that retail establishments who fail to comply with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order on social distancing could be arrested.
The order, which takes effect on Monday at 5 p.m., limits stores to 20 percent of their fire code capacity and requires a number of other safety provisions to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Violators of the order could be charged with a class II misdemeanor.
“We’re lucky to have our retailers open, and we need them to be open,” Mann said Monday morning. “But we also need them to be following the social distancing order so that we can slow the spread of this thing.”
Mann also said Sanford Police have gotten reports of a few “non essential” businesses continuing to operate in areas that are “maybe a little off the beaten path.”
“If you are caught operating illegally or in violation of this order, you can be arrested,” he said.
Additionally, Mann echoed comments by Lee County Health Director Heath Cain on Sunday indicating that people should stop asking for information about patients who have tested positive for the Coronavirus and stay at home as much as possible to limit exposure.
“At this point, it doesn’t matter who has it. Community spread exists in North Carolina and it could be anywhere you go,” he said. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself right now is stay at home.”
As of 12:40 p.m. on Monday, Lee County had 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, one had recovered and returned to normal activity, while 11 were being monitored. While that number is low, it represents a tripling of local cases since Friday. Until then, Lee County had had only four confirmed cases since the beginning of tracking in March.
People who have potentially been exposed to infected patients have been contacted via a tracing process. There have been no Coronavirus deaths reported in Lee County.