Nags Head mayor: Businesses shouldn’t be inviting visitors to the Outer Banks right now

A near empty beach in Kill Devil Hills earlier this month. [Kari Pugh photo]

As North Carolina’s coronavirus count climbed and Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all public schools closed, local social media lit up with a debate over visitors spending their own downtime on the Outer Banks.

Spring break is traditionally a time when businesses reopen and visitors begin returning to the Outer Banks. With school systems around the country closed and many adults working remotely, a few local realty companies encouraged people to come here to ride out the pandemic.

With health officials urging “social distancing,” grocery stores limiting hours to clean and restock depleted shelves, events cancelled and fears that people falling ill might tax an already small local health care system, some local residents started calling for visitor evacuations.

In his Facebook post on Saturday evening, Nags Head Mayor Ben Cahoon said local officials had hoped “good sense would prevail” and that people and businesses would follow Centers for Disease Control and N.C. Department of Health guidelines for slowing the spread of the virus.

“For the most part they are,” Cahoon wrote. “Church services are being modified or cancelled, businesses are adapting, people are refraining from close contact. Bravo!

“But a few businesses are attempting to capitalize on out-of-state school cancellations and remote-work options and are inviting vacationers. This is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the guidelines and common sense. I would urge them to reconsider.”

About Kari Pugh 1073 Articles
Kari Pugh is digital director for, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at