‘It’s too soon to take the lid off’: City leaders share opinions on extending local restrictions
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two weeks ago, New Hanover County announced additional restrictions adding on to Governor Cooper’s Stay-At-Home order.
The expiration date for those restrictions is Monday, April 13.
Wilmington’s City Council shared their opinions, whether the restrictions should be extended or not.
Councilman Neil Anderson says he will go with whatever the governor says.
“I am leaning toward going with whatever the governor dictates for the state and not having specific local restrictions in the city,” Anderson said.
But he says he understands why some places need additional restrictions.
“The beach towns may need some more specific local restrictions than what we have/need in the city, which is understandable,” Anderson said. “I feel like what the governor has in place is good/sufficient.”
Other council members have different opinions.
Councilman Kevin O’Grady says it would be too risky to lift the restrictions at this time.
“The pandemic is not over. We’re pretty lucky that our restrictions have kept our area pretty untouched so far,” O’Grady said. “It’s too soon to take the lid off. I think that would result in a lot of people coming here who would bring the pandemic with them.”
He says there have been some complaints about the restrictions, but most people understand the need for them.
“I think our community will rally around our businesses once things reopen,” he said.
O’Grady says the community will come back and better than ever.
“One thing I’ve noticed, particularly downtown, is a lot of shops are taking the opportunity of this pause to improve the look of their buildings,” he said. “We’ll be even more attractive after this is over.”
Councilmen Clifford Barnett Sr. and Kevin Spears believe the restrictions should be extended, but they should be modified.
“For example, the idea of what people can purchase in stores. What’s considered an essential item,” Barnett said. “I’ve gotten a number of calls from people who have tried to buy let’s say hospital uniforms. That’s in the clothing department, but it’s an essential.”
Spears has similar concerns.
“Maybe a person needs a new pair of pants or even underwear? You can’t tell a person that’s not an essential purchase,” Spears said.
Spears says there should be more clarification if the order is extended.
“One thing for sure is to stress to people that staying at home doesn’t go into effect everyday at 5pm,” he said. “It’s been in effect for nearly two weeks.”
He also says extending restrictions is important, but it’s even more important that citizens follow them.
“We have to get out in front of this pandemic as best we can,” Spears said. “But the citizens play the most crucial role and some seem disinterested or just reluctant to try.”
While asking about potentially extending the restrictions, WWAY also asked the councilmen how they are spending their time at home.
Councilman O’Grady says he and his wife frequently take their dogs for a walk downtown.
“Everyday is Groundhog Day,” O’Grady said. “Luckily the weather has been pretty good so we do get to get out everyday and walk our dogs. We wear our masks now that that’s recommended.”
Councilman Barnett sticks to staying at home. But as a pastor, he is staying connected to his congregation through phone calls and zoom meetings.
He is also staying active.
His son leads a workout class that’s livestreamed through Facebook called Temple Builders Fitness.
“He kills me everyday, Monday through Thursday,” Barnett said.