Staff Update — Guidelines for Rentals and Beaches

Updated: May 21, 2020

Date: 5/15/20

Staff Update: Guidelines for rentals and beaches


On May 6th after much consideration for the Governor’s guidelines, the surrounding communities’ decisions, and Board discussion, Mayor McDermon, in consultation with the rest of the Board of Aldermen, amended the Town’s Declaration of State of Emergency as it relates to previously imposed restrictions on public parking and short-term rentals. As a result of that action:

  • North Topsail Beach public parking reopened on Friday, May 8th at 7:00 AM.

  • The ban on short-term rentals expired on Friday, May 8th at midnight, meaning rentals resumed on Saturday the 9th.

Protective measures continue to be strongly encouraged, including the following:

  1. When you are in a building outside of your residence and unable to maintain constant social distancing, please wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth to decrease the chance of transmission. Most businesses on the island require them for entry.

  2. Please maintain frequent hand-washing, especially before eating or after being in public spaces, and refrain from touching your face.

  3. Please limit personal interaction with anyone outside of your household. Please avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and maintain a distance of at least six feet (“social distancing”).

  4. For high risk populations (aged 65+, immune condition or chronic illness), stay home as much as possible.

  5. If you are visiting here on vacation, please realize, some items may not be in stock at local businesses during your stay. There are shortages just as you experience in your home town. Please plan ahead.

While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in North Topsail Beach, the Board of Aldermen considers these proactive measures essential to address this public health emergency. For the duration of this emergency, the Town of North Topsail Beach encourages and supports guidance issued by the state government through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

As the Board and town staff monitor the situation, staff will make an effort to provide periodic updates. One method is to collect frequently asked questions and distribute the answers to everyone. Please check Facebook and the town website for the most up-to-date information.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are the beaches open? What about the 4x4 access?

Yes, the beaches are open, which includes public beach parking and the 4x4 access. However, please adhere to social distancing guidelines of a minimum of six feet between you and people outside your household.

2. Is stationary activity (sitting with chairs, sunbathing, etc.) on the beach allowed?

Yes, as long as you maintain a minimum distance of six feet between you and people outside your household.

3. Will you distribute cleaning and testing guidance for the short-term rental industry?

We have dedicated space on our website with resources from CDC and NCDHHS for proper cleaning and disinfecting between renters. Town staff is currently working to further distribute these resources to rental agencies and property owners.

4. Are rentals with more than 10 people permitted?

The Town of North Topsail Beach must abide by Executive Order 138 issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. Section 6 of the Order provides as follows:

Section 6. Mass Gatherings Prohibited.

A. Prohibition. Mass Gatherings are prohibited. ''Mass Gathering" means an event or convening that brings together more than ten (10) persons at the same time in a single space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, meeting hall, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. This includes parades, fairs, and festivals.

Mass Gatherings do not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, for worship, or exercise of First Amendment rights, or for receiving governmental services. A Mass Gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, shopping malls, and shopping centers. However, in these settings, people must follow the Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission as much as possible, and they should circulate within the space so that there is no sustained contact between people.

Additionally, in the Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) issued by the Governor’s office to provide guidance as to the Order’s restrictions, the Governor’s Office states the following:

What stays the same in Phase 1? This Phase 1 Executive Order does not change the following:

  • A Stay at Home Order remains in place;

  • Mass gatherings are generally limited to no more than ten people;

  • Teleworking is encouraged;

  • Social distancing, hand hygiene, and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced, including staying at least six feet apart;

  • Restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service and on-premises beverage consumption;

  • Personal care and grooming businesses, including barber shops, beauty, hair, nail, and tanning salons, and tattoo parlors, remain closed;

  • Entertainment facilities, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and performance venues, remain closed;

  • Fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms remain closed;

  • People may leave their homes to obtain medical services, obtain goods and services, engage in outdoor exercise, take care of others or volunteer;

  • Playgrounds remain closed;

  • Open retail businesses must meet certain requirements to ensure the safety of their employees and customers; and

  • Visitation continues to be banned at long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations.

Does Phase 1 change the gathering limit of ten people?

Most gatherings of more than ten people are still prohibited.

Does this Executive Order mean that I can gather freely with individuals outside of my household?

When Phase 1 starts, North Carolinians can once again hold small outdoor get-togethers that follow Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission and do not have more than ten people. Because studies show that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is much greater indoors than outdoors, these social gatherings should be outdoors.

Why does the Executive Order allow for some gatherings outdoors but not indoors?

When people gather together, there is always a risk of transmitting COVID-19.Therefore, gatherings of large groups of people must be restricted in accordance with this Executive Order. Where people gather together indoors, the air they breathe is recirculated, and they are likely to touch the same surfaces. As a result, the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. A recent study found that people spread diseases like COVID-19 in a closed, indoor environment at a rate 18.7 times higher than when they are outdoors in an open-air environment.


NC Department of Health and Human Services

Coronavirus Hotline: Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162

Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211

Onslow County Health Department

General Questions: 910-989-5027

If you think you have COVID-19: 1-888-850-2684

Nonperishable food donations: 910-455-2747

Medical supply donations: 910-3474270

Town of North Topsail Beach

COVID-19 Resources

Questions on town operations: 910-328-1349

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