Phase One FAQs

City Now Following State Guidelines

On April 29, Mayor Allen Joines rescinded his stay-at-home order for the City of Winston-Salem in order to follow the provisions from Governor Roy Cooper. The state is currently under Phase One reopening guidelines, which began at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 8. The statewide order does not change which businesses are deemed essential or non-essential. Visit the state webpage for specifics about Phase One.

Information pertaining to Mayor Joines’ stay-at-home order declaration remains on this site for reference purposes.

Graphic with Winston-Salem logo that says stay at home order in English and SpanishWhat does this order mean?

It means that all Winston-Salem residents must stay at home, however, they may leave to provide or receive essential services or engage in essential activities and work for essential businesses and government services.

It restricts travel upon public streets, alleys, or roadways or other property except by those in need of medical assistance, food, or other commodities or services necessary for the well-being of themselves or a member of their family

What is the purpose/goal of this order?

To ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their home to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.

How does this order change the previous executive order prohibiting mass gatherings of 50 people or more?

This proclamation supersedes the previous order and now prohibits any gatherings of more than 10 people. Businesses allowed to remain open must reduce occupancy to five people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of the maximum capacity allowed by the fire marshal. Read Emergency Maximum Occupancy frequently asked questions.

What is and not allowed?


  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store.
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other health-care necessities.
  • Visit a health-care professional for medical services that cannot be provided online or over the phone (call first!).
  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-through.
  • Care for or support a friend or family member.
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise – just keep at least six feet between you and others.
  • Walk your pets and take them to veterinarian if necessary.
  • Help someone to get necessary supplies.
  • Receive deliveries from any business which delivers.


  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by the order.
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need.
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out.
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for   limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites.\
  • Leave your home except for essential travel and activities.

What is the difference between “Stay at Home” and “social distancing”? 

Stay at home is a stricter form of social distancing. Stay at home means:

  • Stay home (so that you are not exposed to the virus and do not expose others).
  • Only go out for essential services as defined below.
  • Stay 6 feet or more away from others.
  • Do not gather in groups.

When will this order be lifted?

The order is valid through April 16, 2020, but will be regularly reviewed and evaluated and may be amended based upon existing evidence and recommendations by the Public Health Director, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Office of Emergency Management or the local health-care community.

What activities and businesses/travel that are considered essential?

Essential activities are those:

  •  For health and safety.
  • To get necessary supplies and services.
  • For outdoor activities (walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, using greenways).
  •  For work for essential businesses/operations.
  • To take care of others.

Businesses and types of work considered essential:

  • Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders.\
  • Food, beverages, and agriculture (manufacturing, production, processing, cultivation including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, distribution of animals and good for consumption, providing food, shelter, and other necessities for animals).
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine.
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services (businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations including food banks, when providing food and shelter, social services, and other necessities for life for economically disadvantaged or needy individuals, individuals who need assistance, and people with disabilities).
  • Energy.
  • Water and wastewater.
  • Transportation and logistics.
  • Public works.
  • Communication and information technology.
  • Media.
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation (gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities and bicycle shops and related facilities).
  • Financial institutions (banks, currency exchange, consumer lenders, including but not limited, to payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and future exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products).
  • Hardware and supply stores.
  • Critical trades (building and construction – plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses).
  •  Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services (post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels).
  • Laundry services.
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises (in-house delivery, third-party deliver, drive-through, curbside pick-up, and carry-out).
  • Supplies to work from home.
  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations (see #14 in the order for details).
  • Transportation (airlines, taxis, public transportation, vehicle rental, logistics).
  • Home-based care and services (home-based care for adults, seniors, children, people with disabilities).
  • Residential facilities and shelters.
  • Professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, restricted to appraisal and title services).
  • Childcare centers (for specific employees – first responders, healthcare workers, public health, etc).
  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain (see #20 in the order for details).
  • Hotels and motels.
  • Funeral services.
  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions including human services.
  • Other community-based human service operations.
  • Critical manufacturing.
  • Hazardous materials.

Do I or my company need permission from the city to be open as an essential business? 

No permission from the City is needed to open as an Essential Business. Essential Businesses are fully outlined in the Stay at Home Order document (PDF), and additional information is provided here on the Frequently Asked Questions page about the order. If these documents do not answer your question about whether your business is considered essential, please contact the City Attorney’s Office, the Public Safety Attorney’s Office or the City Manager’s Office.

My boss says my business is essential and that I have to come to work. I disagree that the business is essential. Who can I speak with about this?  

Essential Businesses are fully outlined in the Stay at Home Order document (PDF), and additional information is provided here on the Frequently Asked Questions page about the order. If these documents do not answer your question, you may contact the City Attorney, the Public Safety Attorney or the City Manager’s Office.

My essential business is not open every day, but my staff still needs to be there at random times to pick up mail, process payroll, check security, etc. Is this allowed?

Yes. We only ask that no more than 10 people are in a single space at one time and that they practice social distancing.

I live outside of the city limits of Winston-Salem. How does this affect me?

If you work in Winston-Salem, then your business/employer must comply with this order. You are allowed to travel through Winston-Salem and conduct essential activities within Winston-Salem and to return home.

What are minimum basic operations?

The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the businesses’ inventory; preserve the condition of the business’s building, grounds and equipment; ensure security; process payroll and employee benefits; or perform related functions.

The minimum necessary activities to allow employees to work from their homes. 

What is considered essential travel?

Any travel related to the essential activities, essential governmental functions, essential businesses and operations, or minimum basic operations as defined in the order.

  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Travel to or from education institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and other related services.
  • Travel to return to your home from outside the city. 
  • Travel required by law enforcement agencies or court order, including to transport children to comply with a custody agreement.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to home outside the county. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their method of transportation out of the county remains available before commencing such travel.

Am I allowed to travel?

You are allowed to travel for purposes of essential business and essential activities.

Is a permit or documentation required for me to travel for essential services? 

No – There is not a permit or any form of documentation required.

My church is considered an essential business, and we are live-streaming services with no more than 10 people (production staff) present. Do those 10 people need documentation in order to travel to and from the church to participate?

No documentation is required to travel to and from work at an essential business. While your business may choose to provide such documentation for your employees (for example, a letter stating the individual’s job and the need for them to travel for that job), the City is neither requiring nor issuing such documentation.

Does this order enact a curfew?

No. A curfew is not being enacted at this time.

Am I allowed to go outside to exercise?

Yes, but you must maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all others.

What are the requirements for social distancing?

The requirements are:

  • Keeping 6 feet between you and others. 
  • Using hand sanitizer and sanitizing products.
  • Having separate operating hours for vulnerable populations.
  • Using online and remote access when possible.

I believe that someone in my apartment building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and I need to know if this is true.

An individual’s health information is strictly confidential. You can avoid common areas within the apartment building as much as possible and then practice the same precautions as you would when going to the grocery store or a pharmacy: use social distancing, and follow recommended hand washing and other cleaning and disinfecting techniques.

Enforcement Activities

Can I be arrested for violating this order?

WSPD will enforce the order through education, dialogue, and seeking voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses. If voluntary cooperation is not achieved WSPD is equipped to enforce these restrictions through citations.

Does this order apply to the homeless?

No. The homeless are exempt from this restriction but are urged to find shelter.

How can I report a violation?

You can report a Stay at Home Order violation via an online form in addition to calling the police department. 

Non-essential business and travel

What does this mean for non-essential businesses?

Non-essential business and operations must cease. All businesses and operations in the city of Winston-Salem, except essential businesses and operations as defined by the order, are to cease all activities except minimum basic operations. Businesses may continue operations if all their employees or contractors are working from home. 

The order says I am allowed to go outside. Can I take my children to parks/amusement centers?

Children may go to public parks provided you make sure they follow social distancing guidelines. They may NOT use playground equipment. All places of public amusement where people may gather, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, recreation centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs are closed to the public.

Can I visit a loved one in a hospital/nursing home/etc.?

Owners, administrators, operators, staff, contractors, and volunteers of nursing homes, long term care and assisted living facilities are prohibited from allowing a person to enter the facility and visit a resident unless each of the following criteria are met: (1) the visitor is an adult; (2) the resident has not already had a visitor that day; and (3) the visit takes place in the resident’s room.  This prohibition does not apply to end-of-life situations.