By Dave Russell, The Sylva Herald

Jackson County officials have issued several supplements to the March 16 Declaration of Emergency.

That declaration allowed the county to track expenses for possible future reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or any other government funds set aside to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. It also gave Jackson County Emergency Services and the Health Department broader authority to make decisions as to closures, curfews and other emergency efforts without county approval.

Jackson County issued a “Supplemental Declaration of a Local State of Emergency” on March 23, expanding the state of emergency declaration of the previous week. The changes reflected and expanded on measures taken by Gov. Roy Cooper earlier that day limiting the size of gatherings and closing down a number of nonessential businesses to limit the spread of the COVID-19 illness.

Cooper ordered a moratorium on crowds of 50 or more and ordered certain nonessential businesses like nail salons and gyms to close.

The county decided to order hotels and other lodging establishments closed and limit gatherings to 10 people.

“The major change we see in this one is it will close all rental properties in Jackson County like hotels and rental cabins with some exceptions,” Jackson County Board of Commissioners Chair Brian McMahan said. “The goal is to stop people who do not reside in Jackson County from coming here to escape what is going on wherever they live.”

The county followed that with a second supplemental declaration Friday, stating that “Effective Saturday, March 28, 2020 at noon, any person entering Jackson County who is coming to Jackson County from another state or country must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. All members of the household must remain in quarantine for 14 days as well, so persons entering Jackson County from out of state or out of country should bring with them enough supplies, such as groceries and medication, to last for 14 days.”

A third supplemental declaration modified that one. 

“Effective Monday, March 30, 2020 at 5 p.m., any person coming to their Jackson County home for an overnight stay from another state or from outside of the country should stay in their home or on their property (self-quarantine) for 14 days upon arrival before coming into the community for essential services such as groceries, gas or purchasing takeout food.”

The primary difference being a change from the word “must” to “should” in regard to out of state or country visitors quarantining.

Travel restrictions do not apply to county residents working essential jobs or providing essential services out of state, or those working in Jackson County while residing out of state.