Here’s some of what visitors should expect when the Outer Banks reopens Saturday

It’s a Beach Tree! [Kari Pugh photo]

With visitors returning to the Outer Banks on Saturday, Dare County has posted a list of frequently asked questions that outline what visitors should know and expect on an Outer Banks vacation during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Complete information from the county on the COVID-19 response and local guidelines can be found on the county’s website at, and the FAQs for returning visitors from the site are listed below.

Has Dare County coordinated with Hyde County and Currituck County?

Yes, Dare County and the Hyde and the Currituck Outer Banks will all reopen on Saturday, May 16 at 12:01 a.m.

This includes the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo; Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland; the Currituck County Outer Banks; and Ocracoke Island.

What restrictions will be in place when visitors return?

Individuals in Dare County are encouraged to wear a mask or cloth face covering if you will be with other people.

The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at a low cost.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Information on masks and children during COVID-19 is available from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The cloth face coverings described are not surgical masks nor N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Will essential businesses be stocked to provide groceries and necessary supplies?

Like many places throughout the nation, certain types of products remain difficult or hard to find. There may also be purchasing limits for in-demand items such as paper products and cleaning supplies. Retailers have indicated they do not foresee challenges providing essential items.  The variety of products and availability will fluctuate especially when consumers buy more than necessary to meet immediate needs.

Should I bring supplies with me?

Yes. Like many places throughout the nation, certain types of products remain difficult or hard to find. There may also be purchasing limits for in-demand products such as paper products and cleaning supplies.

What if my group staying in a vacation home is larger than 10 people?

While mass gatherings remain limited to 10 or fewer individuals, according to Executive Order 138, a house, household, place of residence, or current place of abode, where more than ten (10) people reside is not a mass gathering.

Who do I call with questions regarding my upcoming reservation?

It’s a good idea to confirm your upcoming reservation with your accommodations provider. Please be patient – accommodations providers will be inundated with calls initially so if your arrival date is further out, give them some time to answer questions from those who have plans in the near future.

Will restaurants be open?

Yes. Many of your favorite Outer Banks restaurants are offering delivery and takeout as an alternative to dining in. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to current state regulations. Lodging establishments which traditionally service breakfast or other meals are also only able to provide meals to go.

The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau has compiled a list of restaurants offering takeout and delivery services. Call ahead for specific menus and hours of operation. This list is subject to change.

On March 18, Governor Cooper announced an executive order closing restaurants and bars for dine-in customers but allowing takeout and delivery orders to continue. Restrictions will be amended in the future as Governor’s Cooper multi-phased plan to reopen North Carolina begins.

Can I go to the beach? Are beaches open?

At this time, beaches remain open. Beaches will be monitored to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to and that there are no gatherings of more than 10 people. If guidelines are not followed, some beaches and public areas may be closed.

It is absolutely critical to limit contact with individuals outside of your household, stay 6 feet away from others at all times and continue to practice healthy hygiene habits.

What businesses will be open?

Under phase one of the state plan that begins on May 8 at 5:00 p.m., most businesses can open. Certain businesses such as gyms, salons, bars, theatres, etc. will remain closed.

Will parks and attractions be open?

Various types of attractions, recreation, and entertainment venues may not yet be open due to State regulations that are not determined or controlled by our local government. Please check social media and websites for attractions you may want to visit for updates on openings, closures and changes to procedures in response to COVID-19.

Most parks and outdoor recreation areas are open. However, playgrounds remain closed at this time based on state guidelines outlined in phase one of the plan to lift restrictions in North Carolina.

Please note that you may find public restrooms closed at local parks and outdoor recreation areas — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms. Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable.

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