Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order No. 131

Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order No. 131 

Unemployment benefits, policies for retail stores and mandatory rules for long-term care facilities

On Thursday, April 9, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 131, which expedites unemployment benefits, sets policies for retail stores, and enforces mandatory rules at long-term care facilities. These mandates will go into effect Friday, April 10 at 5:00 pm, and will remain in place until further notice. 




How will this Order assist North Carolinians who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19?

This Order will expedite unemployment claims processing by, in the case of partial unemployment, allowing employers to submit claims on behalf of employees through an automated process known as the “attached claim” process.  

This Order enables the North Carolina Division of Employment Security, the division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce which processes unemployment claims, to more quickly process certain claims filed by North Carolina employers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to expedite the availability of financial relief to employees. 


Which unemployment claims does this Order apply to?

This Order enables the NC Division of Employment Security (the Division) to exercise more flexibility with respect to processing and issuing relief for attached claims filed by employers on behalf of their employees who have suffered partial unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


What flexibility does this Order give to the Division with regard to processing attached claims?

Under normal circumstances, the attached claims process is only available to employers if they meet certain conditions. In an effort to remove barriers to the attached claims process in order to facilitate efficient processing of unemployment insurance checks this Order will enable the Division to not require that an employer filing an attached claim to pay the full amount of the benefit payable to the employee at the time the claim is filed, and the Order will also enable the Division to accept those claims by employers who do not have a positive credit balance at the time the claim is filed. 

In addition, the Order will enable the Division to not reject claims if they are in excess of six weeks and if they are filed on behalf of employees more than once in a benefit year.


I am a North Carolina employer seeking to file an attached claim on behalf of my employees. How do I get more information on the process and begin a claim?

To obtain information on how file an attached claim on behalf of your employees, visit:




Which retail businesses are covered by this Executive Order?

This Executive Order applies to any business in which customers enter to purchase goods or services, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, big box retail stores, pharmacies, ABC stores, banks, hardware stores, and vehicle dealerships. 

The Order doesn’t apply to outdoor farmers markets. Retail businesses that have been closed by previous Executive Orders. 


What is the occupancy limit imposed on retail establishments by the Order?

The Order limits retail establishments to no more than 20 percent of the business’s stated fire capacity, counting customers but not employees, or five customers for every one thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. 


What other requirements does the Order place on retail establishments?

The Order requires retail establishments to clearly mark six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers and in other high-volume areas to ensure proper social distancing. It also requires businesses to perform frequent and routine cleaning of high-touch areas.


What recommendations does the Order make for retail establishments?

The Order recommends that all open retail establishments:

  • Supply and encourage the use of cloth face coverings for employees if it is not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart, and provide education for employees on the use of cloth face coverings.
  • Place hand sanitizer at entry and exit points, and to have wipes or sprays available to sanitize carts and baskets, and have their employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer between each customer interaction;
  • Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other high-risk groups;
  • Post signs to remind customers and employees about social distancing; and
  • Establish systems for online, email or phone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.
  • The Order also recommends that high-volume retail establishments use shields at cash registers, clearly mark designated entry and exit points, and provide store routing guidance.




Do I have to wear a face mask at all times even when I am on break or not in the presence of residents?

Yes. Skilled Nursing Facility staff should always wear a face mask.


I just discovered that an employee/resident is suspected of having COVID-19. What should I do?

Contact your local health department immediately. Your health department will provide guidance regarding what action to take next.


At what point can a sick staff person come back to work?

Long-term care facilities must remind staff to stay home while they are sick. Employees should follow CDC guidelines on returning to work, including: having no fever for three full days without the use of medicines that reduce fevers; other symptoms that have improved; and at least 7 days having passed since symptoms first appeared. 

Source: Executive Order 131 FAQ