Video: Vacations and visits to the Outer Banks will be different this year

Brown pelicans soar above the surf. [Kari Pugh photo]

While North Carolina is still in Phase One of resuming business and social activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the Outer Banks will reopen to visitors on Saturday.

The checkpoints at the Wright Memorial Bridge and in Manns Harbor will be terminated at 12:01 a.m. and there will be unrestricted access to 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.

In the following video, Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard addressed the local community and visitors in anticipation of the lifting of entry restrictions tomorrow.

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Weekend Beach Conditions

Beach goers should anticipate hazardous ocean conditions this weekend as a storm system moves off the coast. To receive NWS beach forecast and conditions updates via text message send “Join OBXBeachConditions” to 30890.    

Statewide Restrictions in North Carolina Under Phase 1 —

Dare County is currently operating in accordance with orders from the state of North Carolina under Phase 1 of the state’s three-phased plan to lift restrictions. Under Phase 1-

  • People are allowed to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.

  • Small outdoor gatherings are allowed, but gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited.

  • Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms.

  • Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and specific social distancing requirements from the state.

  • 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 considered a mass gathering.  

  • When you leave the house remember the three W’s. Wear. Wait. Wash. Wear a face covering. Wait 6 feet apart and avoid contact with others. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

Vacationing During COVID-19

As visitors return to Dare County beginning Saturday, May 16, it is important for everyone to understand that vacations and visits to the Outer Banks will be different this year as we all adapt to COVID-19. 

Beaches remain open but it is absolutely critical for all beach patrons to follow social distancing guidelines. Social distancing does not stop when you hit the sand. Stay at least 6 feet apart from others outside of your household at all times. To slow the spread of COVID-19, in the water and on the beach, spread out and away from others.  As you spread always keep ocean hazards in mind.  Know where lifeguards are located and how to get help.  To get the latest beach forecast and condition updates via text message send Join OBXBeachCondition to 30890.  

Some changes that visitors should anticipate include:

  • At this time, restaurants are only permitted to provide take out, drive-thru, or delivery. No seated service, indoors or outdoors, is allowed. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted pursuant to the Order of Abatement

  • Community and public pools and spas are closed. 

  • Lodging accommodations are implementing different protocols and procedures to help ensure the safety of guests and staff. 

  • 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.

  • As more businesses begin to open under the state’s order, please be mindful of signage explaining changes to operations due to COVID-19. Check social media and websites for updates on how our local businesses are adapting in response to COVID-19. 

  • To protect the health and safety of customers and employees this summer, some local businesses may require patrons to wear a cloth face covering inside their facilities. 

  • While face coverings are a crucial part of the first line of defense against COVID-19, they should be worn and used in partnership at the same time as proper hygiene and social distancing protection measures. Practice the 3 W’s.

Public Health Guidance for Local Businesses 

As the state moves through the three-phased plan to lift restrictions throughout the summer, guidance from the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DC DHHS) and public health messaging for local businesses will be updated regularly at

Mobile food units and pushcarts must be properly permitted by Dare County or another County. If from another County, then business owners must supply a copy of their permit and most recent inspection report to be compliant. Permits and inspections should be sent to [email protected] . For more information, call 252.475.5080 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Reliable Information Sources During 2020 Summer Season 

Moving forward, updates regarding the response to COVID-19 in Dare County will be issued by the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DC DHHS). 

DC DHHS Director Sheila Davies will continue issuing weekly video updates on Tuesdays with key metrics for Dare County. The four key metrics – weekly number of tests, laboratory-confirmed cases, positive tests as a percent of total tests, and COVID like illness surveillance, provide important information on the intensity and spread of COVID-19 in our community. 

In addition, a weekly update will be issued by DCDHHS on Fridays with press releases being distributed and posted online as needed. Visit for the most up to date information, including resources for local businesses and answers to frequently asked questions. 

Dare County

Parks and Recreation Spring & Summer Update

All spring Parks & Recreation programs are canceled with the exception of the dance program. Dance has tentatively been rescheduled to begin in September 2020 and more information will be available as soon as possible. Participants registered for spring programs may elect to receive a full refund or an account credit for future activities. Participants must contact their division office by Monday, June 1 to receive a refund. After June 1, all remaining participants will receive an account credit.

Summer registration will open June 1 for camps in July and August. There will be no camps held in June 2020. An updated newsletter will be released by Wednesday, May 27 with available camps with the new guidelines. Online registration is strongly encouraged. If you are unable to register online, you have the option to fax or email the registration form to the recreation office and then call with payment. 

Dare County Board of Commissioners Meeting

The Dare County Board of Commissioners will hold their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 18 at 5:00 p.m. at the Dare County Administration Building in Manteo. The meeting will be streamed live and can be accessed on the Dare County YouTube Channel. Public comments may be presented to the Board by sending an email prior to or during the meeting to [email protected].  

During the May 18 Commissioners meeting, there will be a Public Hearing on Temporary Provisions for Restaurants and Mobile Food Units. Comments for the Public Hearing may be sent via email to [email protected].

Town of Duck

To protect our citizens and staff, we ask you to call or email the office to ask how we can assist you remotely. Staff are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.


[email protected]


With heavy hearts, the Town has made the decision to cancel Town sponsored summer events through July 5. This includes the 4th of July parade and community celebration. We will miss these opportunities to enjoy our community members. The Town Park and Boardwalk will remain open, and we look forward to providing entertainment when it’s safe to gather again. 

Town of Southern Shores

Town Facilities-Town facilities remain closed to the public and all Town Hall business is being conducted via phone, email, fax, or other virtual means.  In the event of an emergency, please call 911.  

Meetings-Notice is hereby given that the Southern Shores Planning Board will meet on May 18, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center located at 5377 N. Virginia Dare Trl. The purpose of the meeting is for the Board to continue its consideration of the new flood maps and update to Southern Shores Town Code Chapter 16, Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. The Draft Ordinance, preliminary flood maps, and additional flood information can be found on the Town website at For additional information or questions, please contact Town Hall at (252) 261-2394 or email [email protected]Southern Shores Planning Board Notice-Electronic Participation May 18, 2020

Notice is hereby given that the Southern Shores Town Council’s next Workshop meeting is scheduled to be held Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. in the Pitts Center located at 5377 N Virginia Dare Trail, Southern Shores, NC (Utilizing the Zoom platform/app). Southern Shores Town Council Workshop Notice-Electronic Participation May 19, 2020   Agenda:5/19/20

Notice is hereby given that in accordance with the provisions of N.C.G.S. 159-12, the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, for the Town of Southern Shores has been filed with the Town Clerk and submitted to the Mayor and Council and is available for public inspection FY 2020-2021 Proposed Operating Budget  Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held in the Pitts Center located at 5377 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Southern Shores, on Monday, June 1, 2020, beginning at 5:30 p.m., for the purpose of receiving input from citizens wishing to comment on the proposed budget for FY2020-2021. Comments can also be emailed to the Town Clerk [email protected] prior to the public hearing. 

Bulk Trash Collection: The Town of Southern Shores will collect APPROVED bulk waste items within the Town on Saturday, May 30th, 2020. Approved items for collection may be placed in the street right-of-way not earlier than Saturday, May 23rd, 2020. Items should be ready for pick-up no later than 5:00 a.m. on the scheduled bulk waste collection day. (Click for more info

Building Inspections-Building inspections are still being conducted, however, meetings in person with the Building Inspector on-site are limited.  Inspection requests should be called in to the Planning & Code Enforcement Department by calling 252-261-2394 ext. 3 or email Dabni Shelton, Permit Officer at [email protected].  Permit applications can be submitted online by utilizing the link to Citizenserve on the Town website:  Feel free to call the Planning & Code Enforcement Department at 252-261-2394 ext. 3 should you have any questions.

Town of Kitty Hawk

Town offices are open normal business hours 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.  Face-to-face contact will be limited. Before visiting any Kitty Hawk office, please check the appropriate website or call to discuss the best way to conduct business.    

The Town is offering a special one-time pick up of Large Items and Vegetative Debris for Non-Resident Property Owners who may have missed the previous collections.  Non-resident property owners are asked to call Town Hall at 252-261-3552 to request service.  anytime before June 1, 2020.

The Kitty Hawk Town Council will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at 9:00 am.  The meeting will be held at  Kitty Hawk Town Hall, 101 Veterans Memorial Dr., Kitty Hawk, NC. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss special accommodations that may be allowed under the Town of Kitty Hawk Emergency Declaration for restaurant outdoor seating if indoor seating restrictions are imposed by the State of North Carolina as part of the COVID-19 response. 

Public comments will be accepted via phone or limited audience attendance at the town hall. Anyone may listen by telephone: (Zoom: Call 1 646 558 8656 US and then meeting ID # 925 6968 3805, long distance charges may apply)    

Town Parks are all now open.  Playgrounds remain closed.  The Town is sanitizing twice per week.  Please take all necessary precautions to keep you and your family members safe.  

Ocean Rescue Patrol Continues

To ensure the safety of our citizens utilizing our beaches, the Town has implemented a mobile Ocean Rescue Patrol .  This service is weather dependent and will be between the hours of 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Ocean Rescue will be enforcing all State Guidelines for Social Distancing and Gathering LImitations. 

The Kitty Hawk Bath House and parking lot remain closed due to renovations.

Town of Kill Devil Hills

We must continue to protect our community from COVID-19 by maintaining our physical distance, washing our hands frequently, and wearing a cloth face covering when in public settings. 

We must also continue to show off our neighborly spirit. During challenging times, such as this, it is important that we choose to speak with kindness and compassion. Too often, we underestimate how a simple act of compassion, a kind word, or a smile, can turn someone’s day around. Remember, we’re all in this together, and we’ll all get through this together.

We’ve got this, Kill Devil Hills! The resiliency of our community is unmatched. We know how to adapt and persevere, as a team. We are all looking forward to the brighter days ahead, and to get there faster, we must each keep doing our part.  

Please visit our website, for information on modifications to daily operations/services, closures, contact information for various Town Departments, and other updates.  

Town of Nags Head

The Town of Nags Head thanks everyone for their support, patience and understanding as we navigate through these unprecedented times.  We’re looking forward to having our guests back on Saturday, May 16, 2020. Stay safe and stay healthy. 

Town of Manteo

Town Operations – Access to Town Hall is limited. Call 473-2133 first to handle issues over the phone or online. Ring doorbell and use intercom prior to entry. Utility service disconnections, late fees, and penalties are suspended. Water charges will still be billed. Payment plans are available. Sanitation is on the regular schedule. Bulky item pick-ups are only Monday and Thursday.

Police Department – Access to Police Department is limited. If emergency, dial 911. Call 473-2069 for non-emergency weekday service or 473-3444 after hours. Ring doorbell and use the intercom prior to entry during weekdays. There is a call box for after-hours use at the MPD entrance.

Public Facilities – Town parks and waterfront boardwalks are open. Practice social distancing. Playgrounds and restrooms are closed. Pea Island Cookhouse Museum, Maritime Museum, and Lighthouse are closed. Downtown Marina will open to visitors on 05/16.

Special Events – 4th of July and Dare Day cancelled but plan to return in 2021. Downtown Market postponed.

National Park Service

For the purpose of staying healthy while following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and Dare County public health authorities, outdoor areas at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial are open. As services are limited, the National Park Service urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy. 

Beach users should stay at least 6 feet from each other and not create a gathering of 10 or more people in a single location. Additionally, vehicles on the beach should be parked roughly 20 feet apart. For current beach access information, go to: Off-road vehicle permits will only be available to purchase online at as ORV permit offices are currently closed. 

Beginning May 22, the following services will be available: 

  • Restrooms at the Fort Raleigh Visitor Center, Wright Brothers pavilion, Cape Hatteras beach and sound-side parking areas and visitor centers (visitor centers will not be open). 

  • Camping, with limited capacity will be available at Cape Hatteras campgrounds; however, campsite reservations and payments will only be available online. Staff will not be available to take payment at the campground and site availability will be limited – campers must use for making campground reservations and payments. 

  • Trash services in some locations – everyone is encouraged to “pack it in, pack it out” as trash service will remain limited. 

Beginning May 23, the following services will be available: 

  • Lifeguard services at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Beach, and Ocracoke Beach. 

With public health in mind, the following facilities and activities remain closed: 

  • Bodie Island Lighthouse climbing 

  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse climbing 

  • Fort Raleigh, Wright Brothers, and Cape Hatteras Visitor Centers and bookstores 

  • The Lost Colony outdoor drama at Fort Raleigh 

  • The Avon Pier 

  • In-person off-road vehicle permit sales offices; permits are available 24/7 at Permits should be printed and placed in vehicle. 

  • In-person interpretive programs 

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The National Park Service will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health. 

Details and updates on operations will continue to be posted at,, and social media channels. 

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