Mayor’s Remarks

May 22, 2020

Hello, this is Mayor Hatem

I want to discuss with you Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 141 and what it means for the City of Southport.

Phase 2 Safer at Home, replaces Phase 1 which we are completing today, Stay at Home.

Phase 2 is the easing of certain COVID-19 restrictions to help reenergize the economy while protecting the health of our citizens through public health measures.  It will begin at 5 PM today and will last until the Governor makes a change.  Again, this lifts the statewide stay at home order and transitions to safer at home order.

While out in public:  Wear a cloth face covering. Practice physical/social/healthy distancing—6 ft.  Wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, and or use hand sanitizer.

High Risk Individuals—we have talked about this before:

Age 65 years or older, any age with serious underlying medical conditions/co-morbidities: Lung disease including asthma, COPD, Diabetes, Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, Obesity, Kidney disease/dialysis, and anyone Immunocompromised due to chemotherapy for cancer, immune modulating drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, and other autoimmune diseases, patients who have had transplant surgery.


Phase 2 Changes:

Restaurants –open for dining in with mitigation measures in place: tables six feet apart, 50% fire capacity, physical distancing 6ft when in line, disinfection guidelines for tables and surfaces. Restaurant employees are not required to wear a face covering, but it is highly recommended and I ask that the restaurant owners mandate this and I believe that you will see in Southport, restaurant workers wearing face coverings. Also note that the city is involved in the safe reopening of restaurants –I have asked Chief Coring to make Bay St. one way beginning at the intersection of Caswell and Bay. This will allow for pedestrian social distancing.

Other businesses now open that were not in Phase 1:

Barbershops, Beauty Salons, Child Care Facilities, Hair, Nail , and Tanning Salons, Overnight and Day Camps, swimming pools—50% capacity.

Retail Businesses have been open for almost two weeks, and restaurants that have been open for takeout orders will be allowed to have dine in customers.

Phase 2 does not change the Three Ws:  Wear a cloth face covering    Wait 6 ft. apart and avoid close contact      Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.

Phase 2  does not change the following venues, they remain closed:

Public Playgrounds, Bars and Nightclubs, Movie theaters, museums,  gyms, fitness centers, stadiums, basketball courts—still closed.

Mass gatherings under Phase 2

Gatherings indoors more than ten people in a single indoor space are prohibited.  Gatherings outdoors of more than 25 people are prohibited.

Mass gathering limits include and prohibit:  Parades, Fairs, Festivals, Stadiums, Arenas,

This does not apply to normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, shopping malls, shopping centers, and medical facilities.

Again, wearing facial covering and practicing physical distancing is important to the success of Phase 2. I have heard from many of you the lack of social distancing during the passage of the ship on the Cape Fear River this past week. This was not a city sanctioned event.  And also how upset many of you are, when you go shopping, your fellow shoppers are not wearing masks.  One of the interventions we can do as a city is to supply masks and we are also placing hand sanitizer stations around the city. Again, I cannot overemphasize the wearing of a mask/cloth facial covering. You are saying to everyone around you when you are out, that you respect them and that you are protecting them and that they should do the same for you. Think when you go out, as if there were a radio station in Southport WKCS—Wallet, Keys, Covering, Sanitizer. I am asking you to do everything that you can, from safer at home—to physical distancing, facial covering, so as to not spread this highly contagious viral upper respiratory disease that has killed  almost 100,000 people in the United States. Cases in North Carolina and in Brunswick County are not decreasing. North Carolina, last week, had its largest number of cases reported in one day: 853 cases. In Brunswick County, the number is not large but is continuing to increase—up to 66, increasing by five cases in one day. The virus is still out there.  This is not the “flu”. One of the differences is that doctors, nurses, hospital staff and first responders do not die from taking care of patients with influenza. They have been dying from caring for patients with COVID-19. What I am asking you to do is to learn to adapt and live with the pandemic – that means trying to lead as close to as normal a life as is possible and bringing our economy back and opening our schools but doing so in a responsible way until there is a vaccine as we continue to test, identify, isolate, and contact trace to help control the spread of this disease.

I want to thank the businesses and restaurants for their cooperation. If any of you need additional signage, please go to the city website to our business resource page, for a printable version of COVID-19 signs that you may need. I especially want to thank all the volunteers who have taken food to City Hall, the Police, Fire, and EMS departments, to Dosher Hospital.  I appreciate all who have volunteered their time and service and continue to do so.

I close with wishing you all a very blessed Memorial Day Weekend and as you are out and with your family and friends, please remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. We memorialize those who fought in wars just as one day, we will have a memorial day in honor of those worked in healthcare who lost their lives in caring for patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

And as your Mayor, as a doctor, and as a public health advocate, I ask that you continue the public health measures that will prevent the spread of this contagious disease and remember, by doing so, you will be the heroes that helped to save lives.


Joseph P. Hatem MD, MPH

Mayor City of Southport