Relief for Small Business & Tourism Community: Federal COVID-19 Recovery Package

The $900 billion federal COVID-19 RECOVERY PACKAGE signed into law on December 27, 2020 contains significant benefits for small businesses and the tourism community as well as for individuals.

NC Governor Roy Cooper’s Current Executive Orders 

EXECUTIVE ORDER 188 is an extension of the modified “Stay at Home” order, which requires people in North Carolina to stay at home from 10pm to 5am, with certain businesses required to be closed during those hours; effective through at least January 29, 2021. [January 6, 2021]

    • PRESS RELEASE from Gov. Cooper on NC’s extended “Stay at Home” order. [January 6, 2021]
    • FAQs on NC’s “Stay at Home” order.  [Originally issued December 8, 2020 for Executive Order 181; with Executive Order 188 an extension of Executive Order 181, this document is still relevant.]

SECRETARIAL DIRECTIVE from NC Dept. of Health & Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen urges people to stay at home unless conducting essential business, such as going to work or school; to avoid indoor spaces without masks; and to refrain from gatherings between households. This is Dr. Cohen’s urgent health advisory, but is not a mandate. [January 6, 2021]

EXECUTIVE ORDER 183 allows restaurants, hotels, bars, and some distilleries to sell mixed beverages to-go or for delivery; in effect through at least January 31, 2021 [December 21, 2020].

    • PRESS RELEASE from Gov. Cooper on this order [December 21, 2020]
    • FAQs on this order [December 21, 2020]

Buncombe County’s Current Orders, Information & Resources

A NEW LOCAL ORDER signed by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, and the town of Montreat reduces the capacity for indoor dining in restaurants from 50% of stated fire capacity to 30% and lowers the number from 10 persons to 2 persons for an indoor, social gathering with individuals from outside one’s household [effective January 2, 2021]. This indoor mass gathering restriction is in reference to private social settings only.

Otherwise, Buncombe County remains in alignment with Governor Cooper’s executive orders as noted above, with certain businesses required to be closed from 10pm to 5am daily, through at least January 8, and the selling of mixed beverages to-go or for delivery allowed through at least January 31.

Stats & Metrics

BUNCOMBE COUNTY – County metrics, updated continuously

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA – Data from Dogwood Trust

NORTH CAROLINA – NC’s COVID-19 County Alert System

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY – National and worldwide cases



Mask Mandate in Buncombe County: Signage & Info

    • To help businesses comply with public safety messages and measures, Buncombe County has created downloadable signage in English and Spanish, including the newly required occupancy limit signage. Find it HERE.
    • Buncombe County Community Updates: Latest facts and COVID-19 case numbers HERE.
    • Other information and guidance from Buncombe County public health officials HERE.

Mask Mandate in North Carolina: Signage & Info

    • NC Dept of Health & Human Services media toolkits, signage, banners, Zoom virtual backgrounds, email signatures, PSAs, and other resources on the mask mandate and 3 W’s HERE.
    • FAQs on NC’s updated mask mandates
    • ‘Whatever your reason’ mask public health campaign materials HERE.

‘Asheville Cares’ Stay Safe Pledge

    • Communicate a shared commitment to safety with the ASHEVILLE CARES STAY SAFE PLEDGE, and the WE CARE STAY SAFE PLEDGE, both spearheaded by Explore Asheville in collaboration with local industry partners, and made available in a variety of formats.

3 W’s Safety Campaign

    • Explore Asheville partnered with Buncombe County and the City of Asheville on a new 3 W’s safety campaign featuring a whimsical and eye-catching design, with materials available to local businesses. Learn more HERE.

5-Step Action Plan for How to Handle Anti-Mask Guests

Tips on Mask-Wearing from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

    • How to select, wear, and clean masks for best effectiveness HERE.



Hospitality Industry: Resources from NC Restaurant & Lodging Association

    • Resources, guidance, and advocacy opportunities from NCRLA HERE.

Travel Industry Resources

    • Find industry guidance for promoting the health and safety of all travelers from the US TRAVEL ASSOCIATION. Also, check out VISIT NC for resources to help industry partners navigate business relief, communications, advocacy, research and other needs.



NEW Learning Opportunities for Small Businesses

    • Explore Asheville hosts webinars of value to tourism businesses with presentations by professionals in their fields of expertise. These include:
      • “Cost-Effective Ways To Increase Reach & Website Traffic” find out more HERE [February 2021]
      • “Family Forward NC COVID-19 Rapid Response Program” – find out more HERE [January 2021]
      • “Relief for the Tourism Community: An Update on New PPP Funding” – recording and slide deck HERE [January 2021]
      • “How To Promote New Experiences to your Audiences” – recording and slide deck HERE [January 2021]
      • “Website Usability Best Practices” – recording and slide deck HERE [November 2020]
      • “How To Handle Anti-Mask Guests” – recording and slide deck HERE [September 2020]
    • “Latest COVID-19 Advice for Employers” – hosted by Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce – find out more HERE [January 2021]

Actions by the City of Asheville to Help Small Business

    • To help reduce economic hardship posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Asheville will continue to waive or suspend collection of fees on a case-by-case basis. The fees that may be waived include temporary uses, outdoor dining, a-frame signage, push carts, and associated trade permits. READ PRESS RELEASE HERE (January 12, 2021)

Buncombe County Tourism Jobs Recovery Fund

    • A total of 394 small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 received grants from this fund established by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.  UPDATED INFORMATION HERE.

Business Coaching & More

    • Mountain BizWorks offers small businesses opportunities for lending and learning, with special expertise in the financial challenges of COVID-19. Learn more HERE.
    • Land of Sky Regional Council has developed a one-sheet guide for small business owners in Western North Carolina HERE.

Resources for Safe Reopening

    • Explore Asheville in partnership with a task force of county and regional organizations developed the SMART RESTART TOOLKIT, with guidance and resources for business owners and employers.







Buncombe County health officials encourage residents and businesses to report suspected violation of emergency orders at