Gov. Roy Cooper, on Thursday, April 9, signed a new executive order further restricting the retail establishments that are still open.

Cooper, at a press conference on April 9, said the executive order required that “effective Monday at 5 p.m., stores many not have a number of people inside at one time that is more than 20 percent of the stated fire capacity or either five people for each 1,000 square feet.”

He said, “Stores must also mark six feet of distance at places where people need to gather, like at checkout lines.”

Other requirements for stores in the executive order are that shields must be installed at checkout, and aisles in the stores must be marked one-way.

Stores are also required to provide hand sanitizer for customers and have frequent cleaning and routine disinfection.

Cooper said that while many stores had already adopted these additional measures, they were being made mandatory, “To ensure that retail stores are as safe as possible for everyone so that no one is afraid to go out for basic necessities.”

The latest executive order from Cooper also sets “mandatory protective measures for nursing homes,” which include not allowing dining or group activities in common areas, require face masks for employees and require the nursing homes to screen employees and residents for symptoms of COVID-19.

Finally, the executive order provides additional measures to get unemployment claims processed quicker.

Cooper said that since March 16 there had been 457,000 unemployment claims filed and the state had spent over $40 million on unemployment claims.

The new measures will allow an employer to file a batch of claims for their employees. Cooper said he was pushing the Division of Employment Security to move as fast as possible on approving claims.

He also said that the state had received additional guidance on the federal unemployment payments and that those payments should begin going out by the end of next week.

The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill included unemployment payments of $600 per week until July 31.

Cooper also reminded everyone that although Easter is traditionally a time for family and friends to get together, “It’s still too risky to gather in groups for the holidays.”