Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
The Johnston County Visitors Bureau team is closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on behalf of our visitors and tourism partners in an effort to stay informed on the effects this event is having and will have on the Johnston County area. The situation continues to evolve rapidly and the safety and health of our community, its residents, and our visitors is our top priority. We have worked with industry colleagues and both state and county resources to compile the following information on where you can find the most up-to-date news from health officials at every level. In addition, we have provided resources specific to the tourism trade coming from some of the top sources in the industry at this time.
NCDHHS and Gov. Roy Cooper continue to issue new announcements and guidance weekly related to the Coronavirus. You can find a full list of press releases with information pertaining to each update on the NCDHHS website here.
******** July 29, 2021 ********
Following the North Carolina's coronavirus task force press conference announcing a new Executive Order and new guidance. The new EO aligns with this week's guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is aimed at encouraging vaccinations and slowing the spread of the virus.
Information on the state’s vaccine distribution is available at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). People can find nearby vaccine providers using NCDHHS’ online tool, Find a Vaccine Location. The state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline number is 888-675-4567.
The updated CDC guidance recommends all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. Health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated since the COVID-19 vaccines still provide strong protection against the highly contagious Delta Variant.
You can check the level of community spread for your NC county on this map. If your area of the state has rising cases (Johnston County does), you may wish to recommend guests and staff to wear a face covering.
The vast majority of the best practices are not changing, so please make sure you are communicating with your employees and guests about the importance of vital steps like self-screening before coming to work, staying home if you have symptoms or may have been exposed, conducting regular cleaning and disinfecting, and promoting social distancing, especially for those who aren’t fully vaccinated.
For more information, visit the NCRLA current guidelines page. In addition, the state tourism office, VisitNC, has updated their Travel Advisory page to alert visitors to NC about the newest guidance.
Other State Links:
The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has created an entire website to organize and share information and resources regarding the Coronavirus as it relates to the hospitality industry.
***** As of May 18, 2020 the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association has launched Count On Me NC, an evolving training platform and marketing campaign. All training classes are active. Educate yourself on how to keep your business clean and your customers healthy, and learn how businesses and guests alike are taking the pledge to help make that happen. Course completion earns you a certificate and marketing materials for the Count On Me Campaign. Learn more at the dedicated website.
***** The NC Department of Health released guidance for restaurants; you can follow this link to the information. Please make note that the guidance includes and identifies both requirements and recommendations.
*****As of April 8, 2020 the state has been approved by FEMA to work with hotels to secure housing options for certain individuals. You can learn more about the program here, as well as find an email to contact about participating in the program as a lodging partner.
Airbnb and VRBO: Airbnb and VRBO Guidance for hosts and guests.
Roger Dow, the President of the U.S. Travel Association, is hosting video conversations with travel experts and recently spoke to the President & CEO of Choice Hotels International. This discussion may interest some of our hotel partners and you can find the video here.
Interim Guidance for Businesses from NCDHHS
Guidance for Businesses from the SBA
Google Info: Here are a few tips they provided on how businesses can provide accurate information to their customers:
- If your hours of operation have changed, edit your Business Profile on Google.
- Use Posts to communicate information directly on your Business Profile on Google, like special offers or inventory updates.
- Consider setting an email auto-reply with answers to frequently asked questions.
TripAdvisor Info: As of the end of June, TripAdvisor has launched its own initiative, Travel Safe, which implements a multi-level approach to help consumers feel safe as they begin to travel again. The most important part of this program for our partners is that it allows hotel owners to share safety measures directly on their TripAdvisor listing. Let visitors know what you're doing to keep them safe.
As of July 2021: The SBA extended the application date for the Community Navigator Pilot Program from July 12, 2021 to July 23, 2021, and anticipates making award decisions by September 2021. Established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the community navigator approach is meant to reach our nation’s smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans. The Community Navigator Program will have a significant impact in revitalizing small businesses through a Hub and Spoke “Navigator” featuring a lead “Hub” – at the center of a network of “Spoke” organizations that deploy trusted community advocates to work with small businesses during recovery.
Also from the SBA, if you received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness. Follow these four steps: contact your lender and complete the correct form, compile documentation, submit the forgiveness form and documentation to your lender, communicate with your lender throughout the process. In addition, did you know eligible businesses that allow employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine can receive a tax credit? Partner with a vaccine provider to host an on-site vaccination clinic. Learn more here.
Thread Capital (NC Rural Center)
EDPNC: North Carolina Business Relief Resources (you can also call and speak to a Business Counselor at 1-800-228-8443)
Governor Cooper lifted restrictions on unemployment for anyone affected by COVID-19 in all industries. These lifted restrictions include; removing the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment benefits for workers who lost their jobs, removing the requirement that a person must look for another job during this time when so many potential employers are closed and social distancing guidelines are in effect, allowing employees who lose their jobs, or in certain cases have their hours reduced due to COVID-19 issues, to apply for unemployment benefits, permitting applicants to apply for benefits remotely by phone or online, directing that employers will not be held responsible for benefits paid as a direct result of these COVID-19 claims.
If you are seeking assistance with rent or utility payments, there is a new state program called the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program. For more information, citizens can call 2-1-1 or visit nc211.org/hope to apply online.
Employers can find info regarding unemployment insurance from the NC Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security. Contact the DES Employer Call Center with any questions or concerns: 866-278-3822.
The Economic Development Partnership of NC is maintaining a page on their website with a list of immediate job opportunities across the state.
The Triangle East Chamber has worked with industry partners to create a Johnston County specific job board.
- The county has created a landing page dedicated to COVID-19 information and updates
- Johnston Community College has created a web page and will post any relevant Corona Virus updates here
- Johnston County Public Schools posted an update regarding field trips and interscholastic athletics with detailed information on their Facebook page
- We will continue to work with the Johnston County Public Health Department, Johnston County Emergency Management, and others to continue to keep you updated on developments
- We have not activated any visitor-facing messaging at this point. Our Johnston County Tourism Crisis Management Plan will guide our Crisis Management Team as needed when needed
- As this situation evolves, check with event organizers directly on events that may be impacted or postponed
- Our team is in regular contact with the State Tourism Office (VisitNC)
- Johnston County Emergency Services has created a COVID-19 hotline for general questions regarding the virus, at 919-989-5400
Links with factual updates:
- The most up-to-date information for North Carolina is located at the NCDHHS website here.
- The most up-to-date information on a federal level is available on the CDC’s website here.
On Social Media:
- NC Department of Health and Human Services
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- NC Emergency Management
- Johnston County Emergency Services
We continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and are working with our industry peers as well as state and local level government officials to respond accordingly and responsibly. We are also still working to keep this page up to date as the situation evolves, but please be sure to also follow the resources listed on this page for the most current information from officials.