By Clint Parker
Weaverville, NC – Beginning at 6 am today (May 1), the Town of Weaverville stopped following the guidance of Buncombe County when it comes to COVID-19 and started following the state mandates outline by the governor.
“In an effort to more closely align with the statewide COVID-19 response being led by Governor Cooper, the Town of Weaverville withdrew its consent to the provisions of Buncombe County’s Declarations concerning COVID-19,” said the press release sent by Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey just after noon today.
Asked to clarify what that might mean different from the county’s mandate, Weaverville Mayor Al Root said, “I am not sure as to what the operational differences might be because I cannot speak to the County’s operations. However, as to how our businesses can operate, I would note that the County chose to eliminate the Governor’s general directive under EOC 121, Section 2.C.1 that allows the operation of businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining social distancing requirements (a) between and among its employees; and (b) between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase. “
He went on to say, “I believe that there are many Weaverville businesses that can meet this standard if they wish to take the needed steps, and should be allowed to do so. The County order does not allow them to do so unless they are in one of the limited categories listed elsewhere in the order. “
Some residents have criticized the more restrictive guidelines of the county. The release stated, “The Town found it reasonable to be included in the County’s restrictions ahead of the implementation of the initial statewide restrictions by the Governor. Now that the Governor has put in place a comprehensive set of restrictions aimed at protecting North Carolina’s citizens, the town has weighed whether the more restrictive provisions of the County’s orders are needed in Weaverville.”
“We have concluded that Weaverville does not present unique circumstances that require restrictions above and beyond what Governor Cooper adopted statewide based on the public health guidance that he is receiving,” the release went on to state. “In reliance on the Governor’s action as being reasonable and in the interest of the public’s health, the Town will proceed under the Governor’s executive orders.”
Asked how the town arrived at this new position, Root said, “As Weaverville’s Mayor I am authorized to take this step, but in doing so I have been provided much wise and appreciated advice from town council and staff.”
The release also stated that this does not mean business as usual. “This action does not signal an immediate return to our previous ‘normal’ – the Governor has made clear that we have a long way to go before we reach that goal. It does, however, provide a reasonable loosening of restrictions. The Town will be working with the Governor’s office and Weaverville’s businesses to ensure full compliance with the statewide regulations that are in place to protect all North Carolinians. The Mayor, Town Council, and staff look forward to the next phases of safely reopening our home.”