New Hanover Commissioner seeks to ease beach restrictions

Local News

WILMINGTON, NC (WNCN) — As Gov. Cooper continues to debate extending a statewide stay at home order a New Hanover County Commissioner is hoping to ease restrictions on residents in coastal communities.

In more than 7 years as a New Hanover County Commissioner, Woody White has made the tough call to close the beaches in the past.

“We have closed the beaches a few times for hurricanes and natural disaster events,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White. “Certainly, I’ve never closed the beaches for something like we’re presently going through.”

White says he believes Gov. Cooper did what was best for North Carolina when he issued a stay at home order in early March.

“These are very, very difficult public policy decisions,” said White.

However, White believes it’s since gone too far in many communities.

“Some of these orders are unconstitutional,” said White.

According to White, initial beach closures were meant to keep large crowds from flocking to the coast, potentially bringing COVID-19 with them.

“We have plenty of law enforcement that could go out and site people for doing that,” said White. “Does it make sense to tell a family of four that has their kids home from school that they can’t go walk on the beach and put their toes in the water? Of course not.”

To date, New Hanover County has only seen one death from coronavirus, but White says they face stricter restrictions than many other coastal counties.

“There are parts of our state that could go back to work today immediately,” said White. “The hospital capacity is clearly capable of handling what we’re seeing unfold right now.”

As Gov. Cooper weighs whether to extend a stay at home order, White says there’s one thing we should all keep in mind.

“Stay at home means stay in your home,” said White. “We want you here during tourist season. We want you to come visit the beautiful place that we live, but just not right now.”

White says he is in contact with multiple state legislators about potential overhauls to executive order powers.

While that overhaul might not make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic, White says potential overhauls would be aimed at helping things be more uniform in the event a similar situation takes place in the future.

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