UPDATE 6 p.m. March 20, 2020: On Friday, Dare officials announced they were adding additional restrictions.

Non-resident property owners will be prohibited from entering Dare County beginning Friday, March 20 at 10 p.m.

DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Officials have restricted visitor access to Dare County to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The visitor access restriction began Tuesday, March 17, at 2 p.m. Information on when it will be lifted has not been available.

Although no one in Dare County has tested positive for COVID-19 as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials say they have weighed the potential health benefits of the restriction on the community.

“I’m really glad they’re doing this because I think the more we can isolate, the better off we’ll be,” said Brenda Thacker, who works in Dare County.

Beginning at 2 p.m., checkpoints went up at entry points to Dare County and no visitors will be allowed access. Permanent residents, non-resident property owners and non-resident employees of Dare County businesses may review entry guidelines from the county’s website HERE.

It’s a sight that Dare County residents have seen only during hurricane season.

“It feels really weird. Definitely feel like I should be preparing for something big,” said Duck resident Jessica Armstrong.

It’s not clear how long the checkpoints will be in place. 

“We’re in uncertain times now,” Thacker said.

That’s especially true for business owners like Linda Coats. 

“We’re trying to do our best to rise to the occasion,” she said.

Coats’ restaurant is closed for dine-in service following Gov. Roy Cooper’s order. She supports the visitor restriction but the news was a one, two punch.  

“We’ve never faced anything this catastrophic before but we’re going to do it with some faith and some fortitude and try to take care of the people that are in front of us,” Coats said.

Reentry permits from previous years will not be accepted. Dare County officials say they are working to activate the online permitting system.

Officials are asking residents to avoid contact with checkpoint personnel and display their permit on the dashboard so it is clearly visible.

Visitors wishing to access Currituck County (Corolla), Hyde County (Ocracoke Island), or Tyrrell County will NOT be allowed to travel through Dare County. People who reside, own property or work in Corolla and Ocracoke will be allowed.

Residents and visitors may call (252) 475-5008 for any COVID-19 related questions. Emergency Operations Center personnel anticipate a high volume of calls and ask the community to be patient and leave a message if they reach a voicemail.

There are 40 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina as of 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The Outer Banks Hospital is currently limiting one immediate family member over the age of 16 and not exhibiting any symptoms of an illness to visit patients. The hospital will begin screening patients and visitors for symptoms of illness as they enter the Medical Office Building and Main Lobby. Hospital officials say visitors and patients with illness will be masked and asked to sanitize their hands prior to going to their appointment.

In addition to the latest reports, officials have temporarily closed visitor centers at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial, effective immediately.

For the latest information on the coronavirus in Virginia and North Carolina, click HERE.

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