Town of Beaufort preparing for shelter in place starting Wednesday

BEAUFORT, NC (WITN) While residents across North Carolina are in wait and see mode as to whether a shelter in place order comes from Governor Cooper, the Town of Beaufort has already taken such action in efforts to make sure their residents stay at home.

Going for a run, riding bikes, or walking the dog are just some of the ways folks are getting a break from social distancing at home.

And while their ability to enjoy outdoor activities won't change, some new restrictions are coming for Beaufort residents.

Beaufort resident Arnold Duncan says, "I can see it to a point, you know, it probably affects the elderly more than anybody else."

On Monday evening the Town of Beaufort issued a proclamation for all residents to stay at home. It’s a formal step they say to limit movement, close roads, and restrict operation of places of employment.

Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton says, "If we all had test kits we wouldn't have to do this sort of thing. But because there aren't enough test kits available, we have to mitigate through social distancing and other measures as well."

Many downtown businesses are already closed in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With restaurants and bars already limited to carryout orders and delivery, the economic trickle-down effect is being felt.

Newton says, "This is clearly a balance between economy and public health and in this case, public health takes a priority.

Beaufort resident Alicia Ragsdale says, "We are a service-oriented society and now these people are without a way to feed their families and pay the rent."

There are some other exceptions to the stay at home order such as going to work outside town limits, going to the grocery store, pharmacy or medical appointment, and caring for someone in need.

As for the town's plans to enforce the order, Police Chief Paul Burdette says, "Essentially it's education over enforcement. The reasons the proclamation was put into place is very serious and it's not something to be taken lightly."

Burdette says this isn't a situation in which anybody in public will be stopped by the police, but he says they will engage individuals that appear to be not adhering to the order and there will be consequences for egregious offenses, but he said he doesn't believe it will get to that point.

The town's proclamation will go into effect Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. It will remain in effect until residents are notified otherwise.