The Outer Banks Begins to Reopen
Six weeks after restricting access to the Outer Banks to residents, employees of local businesses, and deliveries, the Dare County Control Group (DCCG) has announced plans to allow non-resident property owners access to their homes, and to begin reopening the Outer Banks.
The decisions the DCCG make are binding only on Dare County. The county has announced that non-resident property owners will be allowed to access their property beginning Monday, May 4.
Currituck County has announced plans to open Corolla to non-resident property owners beginning Thursday, April 23. The county proposed that visitors may be allowed entry beginning on May 15th. However, they will revisit the date for visitor entry at their May 4th meeting. May 15th is very tentative at this point.
Dare County has not yet announced when it will again allow visitors access to the county.
“We are looking forward to welcoming owners back in a very safe manner, and when our guests return, we’ll be taking every precaution to make sure they are safe as well. The safety of our employees and everyone is our primary concern,” Managing Partner of Carolina Designs, Monica Thibodeau, said.
Dare County’s decision to put police checkpoints at the three bridges and limit access to the county has been controversial, with a number of non-resident property owners angered by the decision. In particular, the property owners felt the restriction was an unfair and perhaps illegal limit on their property rights.
The DCCG, however, pointed to a 20-bed hospital that did not have a ventilator if one was needed, writing in their March 20 COVID-19 Bulletin #10, “The intent of this declaration is to decrease the risk of exposure and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Dare County…reducing the number of individuals in the county and ultimately reducing potential virus spread and the burden on our healthcare system. It is imperative to take measures to…not overwhelm our healthcare system so it can care for those who are at most risk and continue to provide routine medical and emergency services.”
According to the statements from Currituck and Dare Counties on Monday evening, the ability to respond to COVID-19 has improved. Neither county has recorded a new case in over a week.
To date, Dare County has had 15 cases, although one of those cases was a person who had a Dare County address but was not on the Outer Banks at the time. The county has had one fatality—a 90-year-old man with preexisting conditions. The other cases have recovered without hospitalization.
Currituck County has reported two cases and no fatalities, although neither case was a resident of Corolla.
The Dare County statement, in particular, noted that improved testing with a turn around time of 24-72 hours as well as protocols that will allow better tracking of social contacts if there is a positive test.
“Medical surge capacity has gone from planning to implementation locally, regionally and across the State of North Carolina,” the DCCG wrote in their press release announcing the reopening of the Outer Banks.
Corolla will open tomorrow to non-resident property owners. Dare County with significantly more property owners that Currituck will be staggering when property owners will first be allowed access. The schedule is as follows:
Beginning Monday, May 4 at 6:00 a.m. – Entry begins and is ongoing for non- resident property owners whose last name begins with A – I
Beginning Wednesday, May 6 at 6:00 a.m. – Entry begins and is ongoing for non- resident property owners whose last name begins with J – R
Beginning Friday, May 8 at 6:00 a.m. – Entry begins for non-resident property owners whose last name begins with S – Z
Both counties have cautioned the property owners to expect shortages in grocery stores. Dare County wrote, “All non-resident property owners should bring their own supplies to sustain themselves in their homes as much as possible, including groceries, prescriptions, paper products, and other essentials.”
Currituck County, opening tomorrow was more explicit.
“Everyone should bring their own food and supplies to last approximately 14 days, as the grocery stores on the Outer Banks may not be fully-stocked at this time.”
Both Dare and Currituck Counties will require a valid re-entry pass.