‘At no point would county leadership ask its staff or county residents to break the law…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A North Carolina county that defied the state-mandated shutdown orders acknowledged that their recent order to reopen the county lacks force.
The Gaston County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to let businesses resume operation following a month of quarantine related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The order, which largely serves as a political and public health statement, took effect on April 29 at 5 p.m, WBTV reported.
But the commissioners recognized that Gov. Roy Cooper‘s executive decree to extend the state’s economy-wrecking shelter-in-place restrictions superseded their own.
“From a function standpoint, Gaston County Government will continue to follow all state laws, including Gov. Cooper’s executive order,” county officials wrote in a statement. “At no point would county leadership ask its staff or county residents to break the law.”
The order of the county commission would let those people who fear the virus or are susceptible to it—the elderly and immuno-comprised—stay home, while letting the healthy and courageous return to work.
Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck said that new information surrounding the coronavirus—the far-lower-than-projected case fatality rate, infection rate and hospitalization rate—shows that the response to it must be altered proportionally.
“Gaston County leadership supports the reopening of Gaston County,” he said. “Staying home is not a solution. People need to go back to work.”
He also said the nation has had time to prepare for the virus by stockpiling personal protecting equipment.
If the shutdown continues, Philbeck warned, “we will not have anything to come back to.”
He said he believes that citizens can work and stay healthy, as many states and foreign nations have shown.
Unfortunately, Philbeck’s comments and the county’s order caused confusion among the county’s residents and business owners, WCNC reported.
Alfredo Culebro, who manages Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Gastonia, Gaston County’s largest city, was “eager” to open the restaurant but then disappointed to realize that the governor’s decrees would turn him into a criminal for opening his doors.
“We was [sic] confused. We are still confused now,” Culebro said.
Culebro posted on Facebook about the potential reopening, so the Gastonia police showed up at his business to ensure that he would not violate the governor’s decrees.
“In spite of the governor’s order, we support and will stand with those that want to open their businesses and go to work,” Philbeck said.
It was not clear how the support would be made manifest amid the state’s criminalization of working.
Meanwhile, business owners in two other North Carolina towns, Apex and Roxboro, moved forward with their plans to open their stores in defiance of the state’s shutdown orders.
Matthew Myers, who owns Apex Tattoo Factory in Wake County, said he had no choice but to return to work on Wednesday, WRAL reported.
He said his business nears bankruptcy and his home nears foreclosure.
Myers announced on social media that his tattoo shop would open at 1 p.m. on April 29.
Fellow citizens reportedly snitched on Myers.
The police called him and warned him not to reopen, but he refused and the police arrested him shortly after opening.
“I respect the Apex Police Department. And it’s probably with the heaviest of heart of all that this has to happen in Apex,” he said. “I have to be the one that’s the first bee swatted.”
He faces 60 days in prison or a $1,000 fine.
Jessica Wesley said she would open The Room, a hair salon in Roxboro, on Friday at noon, WRAL reported.
She said she knew about Myers’s arrest but planned to open her business anyway.
“We’ve got to stand up and come together. I’m not doing this recklessly; I’m doing this with a plan of action,” Wesley said.
After she served a few customers, the police came and asked her to close voluntarily. She complied, WTVD reported.
“I feel like we’ve gotten our point across,” Wesley said. “So let’s just call it quits. My point is made, and I appreciate it.”