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City, county declare emergency over virus

The city and county of  Durham have each declared a state of emergency to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The city’s declaration prohibits gatherings of 100 or more people in buildings owned or co-owned with the county such as the Durham Performing Arts Center, Carolina Theatre, Durham Arts Council, and the City-County Convention Center. The city declaration expires March 28.

“We know that social distancing is one of the most important ways of keeping us all safe. I know this will be a hardship on venues like DPAC and the Carolina Theatre, and I am very grateful for their close cooperation as we make these decisions together,” Mayor Steve Schewel said in a statement.

The county’s declaration, which is effective until it is rescinded, provides further restrictions. 

It says any gathering of 100 or more people in the county should be canceled or postponed and it recommends that people in Durham maintain a 6-foot “social distance.” 

It also says individuals must comply with quarantine orders and that county public health officials must have “cooperation from the public and unobstructed access to persons, records, residences and facilities” to investigate coronavirus cases. Failure to comply with either quarantine orders or the investigations is a criminal violation of state law, the county says.

The emergency declaration also says county and city utility services will not disconnect residents for failing to pay their bills, and it urges private utilities to adopt the same approach.

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