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Resolution Closing Lodging Facilities Set To Expire-Brevard NC


Last updated 4/29/2020 at 3:42pm

Today, the March 31 resolution that closed the majority of lodging facilities, including campgrounds and direct-reservation facilities, such as AirBnb and VRBO, in the county will expire, allowing these businesses to again receive customers, as long as they are in compliance with the current Stay at Home order.

The Transylvania County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to not extend the resolution, which was initially set to run through April 30.

Commissioners also plan to reach out to state officials to find out their plans and what kind of guidance they would like from county officials about the state-owned public lands, such as DuPont State Recreational Forest and Gorges State Park, which are currently closed.

Commissioner Page Lemel said state officials are seeking opinions from counties as they look to next steps. She said, however, a forester contacted her and talked about the “challenges” in dealing with crowds and voiced “fear” if “everyone shows up.”

Commissioner David Guice said he understands those concerns but the same challenges are faced at beaches in South Carolina and lakes in Georgia.

“(It) comes back to social distancing and using masks,” he said, while noting that the “virus is here” and visitors are “not necessarily going to bring it.”

Commissioner Jason Chappell supported waiting on the county taking a position on the public lands until they receive more feedback from the state.

Also allowed to expire in the initial resolution were the:

•cancelling or postponing of all county meetings if they could not be conducted electronically;

•authorizing comm-issioners and staff to attend commission meetings via teleconference; and

•restricting public from attending meetings in person, with measures to allow for public input and participation.

Meetings at the commissioners chamber will continue to be limited to the 10-person rule.

Moving Forward

Earlier in the meeting, after commissioners heard an update from Public Health Director Elaine Russell, Guice said an “exceptional job” was being done in the county but he believed it time for the county to discuss the way forward, while still meeting the state guidelines, he added. He said Transylvania is not Charlotte or Wake County, noting there are no COVID-19 cases in the hospital.

He said Western North Carolina is in a good position while it is surrounded by states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, which are opening back up, allowing North Carolinians to travel to these states, to go to their restaurants, to go and get a hair cut.

Commissioner Will Cathey agreed the county needs to discuss its next steps.

Commission Chairman Mike Hawkins asked Russell whether Transylvania County would, right now, pass the metrics for easing restrictions that Gov. Cooper has laid out as necessary to begin loosening restrictions. The metrics call for decreases in COVID-like syndromic cases over 14 days; lab-confirmed cases over 14 days; positive tests as a percentage of total tests over 14 days; and hospitalizations over 14 days

Russell said the county would get “a good report card” but she said she would also “caution” commissioners because it, she said, it is “very easy for neighboring counties that are not being as conscientious or as good as we are to have their bad conduct to bleed over and influence our good results.”

Guice said the county could not block all accesses into Transylvania.

“We have to live with this situation, but we also have to live with the fact that if we don’t begin to have conversations about how are we going to move forward, I fear that a lot of folks are not going to be in a position to just do that,” he said. “It’s not just business owners. We have a lot of people who have chosen professions, such as hairdressers. These folks are suffering. I have to believe that the good people of Transylvania County are going to comply with the distancing rules and the other things to keep us safe. They do anyway. There has got to be balance.”

Hawkins said COVID-19 would remain a “part of our lives” until a vaccine is found. He asked whether commissioners and county staff should be wearing a mask during the meeting.

Russell suggested it was unnecessary as those at the meeting were practicing social distancing. Masks, she said, should be worn in a “moving public environ-ment,” where people are more coming and going, such as in retail stores or care facilities.

To get the community and economy opening back up, she said the public needs to “embrace the using of face coverings and masks.”

“We all have to buy in and do our part and not just leave it to a subset of our community to carry the burden,” she said.

At the end of the meeting during commissioner comments, Hawkins em-phasized reinforcing the importance of the public health component in any reopening discussions.

“When we discuss this over the next few weeks, we should be very mindful of understanding that data points don’t necessarily reflect trends – that data points are just data points,” he said. “We have to try and understand what those data points mean. It’s my opinion that from everything that I have seen that COVID-19 is not going away. That until there is a vaccine our lives are going to be different. When we work out these plans for reopening, it has to reflect those realities and has to be within the constraints of those above us, whether at the state or federal level. It’s going to be interesting in the next few weeks and couple months. We are going to earn our money over the next couple of months trying to manage this and people like Sheriff Mahoney – front-line people, people like (Russell) – and supporting them and the work they do.”


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