RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) Governor Roy Cooper ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for 30 days, until April 29 in another step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121 takes effect on March 30 at 5:00 p.m. and reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people.

The Order provides for essential businesses to continue to operate while prioritizing social distancing measures.

The Order has the force of law and will be enforced in all 100 counties statewide.

“To continue our aggressive battle against COVID-19, I have signed a Stay at Home Order for the entire state of North Carolina. Though it is difficult we must do this to slow the disease spread,” said Governor Cooper. “We need our medical system to be able to care for the friends and family we know will become seriously ill from the virus.”

The Governor noted today that three North Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 and the state has 763 confirmed cases of the virus in 60 counties.

North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus.

The Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member.

Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others.

“I know this order may lead to even more hardship and heartache. Although we are physically apart, we must take this step together in spirit,” Governor Cooper said. 

“We appreciate Governor Cooper’s decisive action to protect North Carolinians by issuing a stay at home order. This is an important step to keep North Carolina communities safe as well as health care workers and others serving on the front lines. We also appreciate the bold leadership we’ve seen here in eastern North Carolina. We are proud that the East continues to do its part to flatten the curve. We are all in this together,” Vidant Health officials said.

The Governor’s full order is available HERE.