Wilmington mayor: Dressing rooms can open; capacity for hotels increases


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As part of the next phase of the city’s State of Emergency Declaration, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo announced several changes effective at 5 p.m. Friday.

During a news conference Friday, Saffo announced these changes:

  • Capacity for hotels and motels has been raised from 25 percent to 50 percent
  • Sports facilities are closed, however five-on-five sports are now allowed with spectators as long as they are social distancing.
  • Dressing rooms will be open with the requirement that clothes are sanitized after they are tried on and/or the clothing is taken out of commission for a day.
  • Auto sales businesses must have hand sanitizer available in showroom. Cars must be sanitize after each drive. Sales people can take part in test drives but must wear a mask.
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Wilmington is one of the last cities in the state to have more restrictions than the governor’s order.

Saffo says this is because many of the cases in the area came from travelers and surrounding communities, so leaders felt it necessary to keep the amount of visitors down.

“With the amount of rooms we have here in New Hanover County, if we brought all those people in at one time it could create a lot of havoc and could create a tremendous spike for us,” he said.

He says the extra precautions have worked.

“146 cases for a community that’s got 235,000 people. That wasn’t by accident,” Saffo said.

He emphasizes the importance of continuing to practice social distancing, proper hand washing, and wearing masks.

“As we reopen we know we are going to see spikes, we just don’t know what that will look like, but if people would just adhere to those particular practices we feel that we can continue to keep the rate of infections down or as far as the percentage,” Saffo said.

As for businesses who were not permitted to reopen, like gyms and bars, he says he hopes the governor will re-evaluate in two weeks.

But he knows Governor Cooper is doing it to keep people safe.

“The last thing that we want to do in the government is to go back to a lock-down,” Saffo said. “What we want to do is we want to reopen this state, we want to reopen this country but we want to do it in a safe way.”

Saffo reiterates his number one concern is the health of the public and making sure everyone is taking extra steps to remain safe.

“We’re not here to destroy people’s business or put people out of business,” he said. “We’re trying to get this country and this community open as quickly as possible and as long as people would do that it would really help all of us in keeping that rate of infection down.”

As of Friday morning, New Hanover County has reported 146 cases since the virus first hit the area. 3 people have died.

Phase 2 begins on Friday at 5 p.m. in North Carolina, however, bars, nightclubs, gyms, playgrounds, indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, and bowling alleys will still remain closed under these guidelines. Those establishments were previously going to open under the original Phase 2 plan.

Restaurants, salons and barbers can reopen at 50% capacity. Swimming pools, overnight camps and day camps can also open.