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Tourists, kept away from the Outer Banks since mid-March, flood the Wright Memorial Bridge when the beaches reopened Saturday at 12:01 a.m. [NCDOT traffic cam photo]

While North Carolina is still in "phase one" of resuming business and social activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the Outer Banks reopened to visitors Saturday just after midnight.

Cars lined up on the mainland side of the Wright Memorial Bridge to enter the islands, with a steady of flow of traffic at 12:01 a.m., when access became unrestricted to the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo; Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland; the Currituck County Outer Banks and Ocracoke Island. The Outer Banks has been closed to visitors since mid-March.

Weekend Beach Conditions

Beach goers should anticipate hazardous ocean conditions this weekend as a storm system moves off the coast. To receive NWS beach forecast and conditions updates via text message send “Join OBXBeachConditions” to 30890.    

Statewide Restrictions in North Carolina Under Phase 1 —

Dare County is currently operating in accordance with orders from the state of North Carolina under Phase 1 of the state’s three-phased plan to lift restrictions. Under Phase 1, people are allowed to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.

Small outdoor gatherings are allowed, but gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.

Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms.

Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and specific social distancing requirements from the state.

While mass gatherings remain limited to 10 or fewer individuals, according to Executive Order 138, a house, household, place of residence, or current place of abode, where more than ten (10) people reside is not considered a mass gathering.  

When you leave the house remember the three W’s. Wear. Wait. Wash. Wear a face covering. Wait 6 feet apart and avoid contact with others. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

Vacationing During COVID-19

As visitors return to Dare County, it is important for everyone to understand that vacations and visits to the Outer Banks will be different this year as we all adapt to COVID-19. 

Beaches remain open but it is absolutely critical for all beach patrons to follow social distancing guidelines. Social distancing does not stop when you hit the sand. Stay at least 6 feet apart from others outside of your household at all times. To slow the spread of COVID-19, in the water and on the beach, spread out and away from others.  As you spread always keep ocean hazards in mind.  Know where lifeguards are located and how to get help.  To get the latest beach forecast and condition updates via text message send Join OBXBeachCondition to 30890.  

Some changes that visitors should anticipate include: 

At this time, restaurants are only permitted to provide take out, drive-thru, or delivery. No seated service, indoors or outdoors, is allowed. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Order of Abatement

Community and public pools and spas are closed. 

Lodging accommodations are implementing different protocols and procedures to help ensure the safety of guests and staff. 

Like many places throughout the nation, certain types of products remain difficult or hard to find. There may also be purchasing limits for in-demand products such as paper products and cleaning supplies.

As more businesses begin to open under the state’s order, please be mindful of signage explaining changes to operations due to COVID-19. Check social media and websites for updates on how our local businesses are adapting in response to COVID-19. 

To protect the health and safety of customers and employees this summer, some local businesses may require patrons to wear a cloth face covering inside their facilities. 

 While face coverings are a crucial part of the first line of defense against COVID-19, they should be worn and used in partnership at the same time as proper hygiene and social distancing protection measures. Practice the 3 W’s.

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