New Hanover County lifts local restrictions, remains under Governor’s Stay At Home Order

Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:32 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Today, New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman announced that she will not extend the county’s local restrictions put in place in response to COVID-19, and will allow them to expire on Wednesday, April 29 at 5 p.m.

“The steps we have taken over the past month have not been easy for our residents, but it’s clear that what we’ve done has worked,” said Olson-Boseman. “Our Stay at Home measures have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and prevented our healthcare system from becoming overburdened. So I have consulted with our Public Health experts, hospital leaders, local mayors, and my fellow Commissioners – and we will be allowing the county’s additional mitigation measures to expire on Wednesday at 5 p.m. with our State of Emergency remaining in place. This will put New Hanover County directly in line with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, which is extended at least until May 8.”

The City of Wilmington and the towns of Carolina, Kure, and Wrightsville beach may continue with additional restrictions that limit access to beaches, short-term rentals, facility openings, and more – based on their individual communities. But there will no longer be a county-wide order with restrictions over and above the Governor’s Stay At Home order that is in place.

The expiration of the local order means that on April 29 at 5 p.m.:

  • Businesses can operate in line with the Governor’s Order. The Governor’s Stay at Home Order outlines businesses that can be open and those that need to remain closed, specifically those that are close-contact businesses.
  • Restaurants in the county will be able to offer carry-out food service, in addition to their ongoing delivery and curb-side pick-up, but they must continue to comply with social distancing requirements. Dine-in service, including outdoor seating at restaurants, is still not permitted – as outlined in the Governor’s Order.
  • Public gardens, basketball and volleyball courts will also be opened, but social distancing must be adhered to and groups cannot be larger than 10 people. Public restrooms at these facilities remain closed.
  • Beaches are no longer restricted by the county, but all three beach towns now have their own orders in place declaring limited beach openings.
  • Hotels, motels and short-term rentals are no longer restricted by the county, but each municipality may choose to write orders specific to their jurisdiction around short-term rentals; and Carolina Beach has already extended this restriction until May 8.

An updated State of Emergency for New Hanover County can be viewed here, and will go into effect on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

County Operations

Beginning on Thursday, April 30: the grounds of Airlie Gardens and the Arboretum will be open to the public; the county’s landfill, household hazardous waste facility, and HazWagon will all be operational and open for residential traffic; and the county’s tax appraisers will resume fieldwork, under strict physical distancing guidelines.

The county’s public libraries and Cape Fear Museum will remain closed, at least until May 8, under the Governor’s Order, and New Hanover County will continue its limited walk-in hours for the public to enter county buildings between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Diagnostic Testing

New Hanover County Public Health has expanded COVID-19 diagnostic testing in the county, providing an opportunity for residents who are experiencing symptoms to be pre-screened by phone and then tested for COVID-19 at a drive-through location at no cost.

Residents can call the New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to be pre-screened by a public health nurse before being referred for a test. This additional service was announced yesterday and is being paid for by New Hanover County through a contract with a private lab.

Through this initiative, Public Health will test up to 2,400 residents for COVID-19 over the next four weeks, and will conduct contact tracing for anyone who tests positive for the virus. Additional details about this testing effort can be viewed here.

Antibody Testing

In addition, City of Wilmington Mayor Saffo and Chair Olson-Boseman announced today that a donation of 10,000 antibody test kits has been given to our community. Different from diagnostic testing, antibody testing may indicate if an individual has been exposed to COVID-19 and developed antibodies against it.

“Antibody testing could help us determine if someone potentially had COVID-19 – even though they were either unable to be tested while they were sick or they never had symptoms,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “Targeted antibody testing could also tell us whether someone in a high risk setting – such as a long term care facility – has the particular antibodies that might indicate recent infection even without symptoms. We could then follow up with more precise diagnostic testing to ensure no workers or residents in that facility currently have COVID-19.”

Public Health plans to first offer the antibody tests on those who have a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 to understand if they have developed antibodies to COVID-19 and then additional targeted antibody testing will be deployed over the coming weeks, before expanding to the community at large.

“All of this together will offer our Public Health team more information and a more robust surveillance system to understand the true impact of COVID-19 in our county, and it will help us move forward as a community,” said Lisa Brown.

COVID-19 in New Hanover County

As of April 27, there have been 79 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, and of those there are 49 people who have recovered, 27 people who are still ill and experiencing symptoms, and there have been three deaths.

View demographic data on lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Hanover County at

Slow the Spread

As mitigation measures begin to lift, the public is encouraged to continue personal protective actions to help keep the rate of COVID-19 low and to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Comply with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order.
  • Wear Cloth Face Coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Stay home unless you must travel for essential purposes. If you must leave your home, follow proper physical distancing protocols: don’t gather in groups of more than 10 and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Stay home if you are sick, even if you are an essential worker. And cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (like your phone, tablet, countertops and daily work surfaces).


As of April 27, there have been 79 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For more information about COVID-19 in New Hanover County, visit, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.

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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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