New Hanover County closes Public Libraries and Cape Fear Museum, limits gatherings at all facilities to 10 people

Posted March 17, 2020 at 1:06 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Beginning Wednesday, March 18, New Hanover County will close its Public Libraries and Cape Fear Museum to the public until further notice. The county’s parks and gardens, including Airlie Gardens and the Arboretum, will remain open for visitors, but the education centers and enclosed areas at the county’s parks and gardens will be closed.

“These closures are being made following recommendations from the federal government and in parallel with action taken by the state of North Carolina,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “Our staff are incredibly innovative and creative, and they are already working on implementing virtual opportunities for the community, like live story times for children, online resources for backyard scavenger hunts, and more. We know these closures and changes are difficult for our residents, but it’s important that we continue our proactive measures to keep our community safe and healthy during this time.”

In addition, any reservation or room rental made at any county facility will be canceled in order to comply with the current community guidance and to limit public gatherings. Those more at-risk of COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home and avoid public spaces.

Additional information about these and other county services and facilities is below:

Public Library

Our Public Library will offer modified services to include virtual services and enhanced online resources. A curbside service will be added at all four libraries, so patrons can reserve books online or by phone. Items can be picked up in a drive-through option at the designated library after notification of the arrived hold is received. Hours for the drive-through service will be Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Distance and sanitation measures will be observed. In addition, library patrons will not be charged overdue fines until further notice and library card expirations have been extended to June. Learn more about library services at

Parks and Gardens, including Airlie Gardens

The county’s parks will remain open to the public for the time being with normal operating hours. Shelter reservations have been canceled and the public is encouraged not to be in groups of more than 10 people at a time. That includes the playgrounds and shelter areas. Visit for updates over the coming weeks.

At this time, Airlie Gardens will continue to open at 9 a.m., but all visitors are asked to exit the gardens by 4:30 p.m. Again, social distancing – remaining six feet away from others and not congregating in groups of more than 10 – is encouraged. The restrooms at Airlie will also be closed to the public.


The grounds of the Arboretum will be open for guests from dawn to dusk, but all buildings – including the plant clinic, gift shop, public restrooms, and administrative offices – will be closed to the public. Restrooms at the Arboretum will also be closed to the public. Visit for more details.

Health and Human Services

The county’s Health and Human Services is open, and residents are asked to call ahead at 910-798-3500 to determine if services can be conducted over the phone prior to coming to the building. Currently applications and assessments for emergency assistance for heating and cooling costs and childcare can be conducted by phone. Residents can apply for Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services online at, or call 910-798-3500 to have an application mailed to them.

Visitors to the Health and Human Services building are being screened for fever and respiratory symptoms by a public health nurse before entry, and waiting areas promote social distancing, if one-on-one services are needed.

Senior Resource Center

As a reminder, the county’s Senior Resource Center’s activities are suspended at this time, but some one-one services and drive-through and delivery meal service are being offered. Learn more here.

Soil and Water Meeting Canceled

In addition to these updates, the Soil and Water Conservation District Board meeting schedule for Wednesday, March 18 has been canceled.

A Public Health Coronavirus Call Center is now open for residents to call with questions about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and, if needed, be connected with a provider who will then determine if a flu test and/or COVID-19 test is needed.


As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, but preparedness plans are in place for the health and safety of our community. For updates and resources related to the COVID-19 virus in New Hanover County, visit

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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277
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