Durham County sheriff suspends all evictions amid COVID-19 outbreak

Coronavirus

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham County sheriff is suspending all evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the closure of the North Carolina court system.

On March 13, North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley closed the state’s courts for 30 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The closure applied to most cases including evictions and foreclosures.

On Monday, Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said he has been asking for clarification from judicial officials on how to handle eviction orders filed before the courts were closed.

“At this time, I am suspending the service of these judgments until further notice. Although Chief Justice Beasley’s order does not specifically address this process, it has been interpreted that under that order a suspension would be allowable,” Birkhead said.

The sheriff said he has constitutional responsibilities that “cannot be halted.”

Birkhead said no one has been evicted into a homeless situation as a result of recent orders.

“Together, as one community, we will get through this health crisis allowing the lives of our County’s residents to return to normal,” Birkhead said.

COVID-19 timeline

  • March 3: NCDHHS announces state’s first COVID-19 case
  • March 10: Gov. Roy Cooper declares State of Emergency
  • March 11: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic
  • March 13: President Donald Trump declares a National Emergency
  • March 14: Cooper issues Executive Order 117 closing K-12 public schools until at least March 30 and banning gatherings of more than 100 people
  • March 16: NCDHHS recommends no mass gatherings for more than 50 people
  • March 17: Cooper issues Executive Order 118 limiting operations of restaurants and bars, and broadening unemployment insurance benefits
  • March 23: Cooper issues Executive Order 120 which closes public K-12 schools through May 15 and orders businesses such as barbershops and salons to close.
  • March 25: North Carolina reports its first coronavirus-related deaths
  • March 29: Trump extends social distancing orders through the end of April
  • March 31: Cooper signs Executive Order 124 which prohibits utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during the pandemic.
  • April 7: Cooper will sign executive orders limiting customers in retailers and offers child care assistance to certain workers
  • April 14: Coronavirus-related deaths top 100 in North Carolina
  • April 24: Cooper extends stay-at-home order to May 8
  • May 5: Cooper announces Phase One of reopening will being May 8

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