We’re Looking Forward to Welcoming You!

The Basics on Local Re-opening

Updated May 22, 2020, 8:25 pm.

Blowing Rock’s businesses are getting ready to welcome you again! The safety of our community and visitors is a top priority, so our businesses have been using time this Spring to implement necessary precautions and procedures. Our shops were the first to open back up to more traffic as our county and state take a careful and phased approach to re-opening amid COVID-19 concerns.

In North Carolina, Phase 1 of the state plan began on May 9 and included a modified Stay at Home Order, but more commercial activity was allowed. That means that our gift shops, clothing boutiques, and homewares shops opened for customers to browse and shop, though at a reduced capacity. Physical distancing is still a priority during this time, and it’s recommended that people wear a cloth face covering when they may be near others (less than 6 feet away) who are not family or household members. Everyone is still encouraged to get outdoors for exercise. During Phase 1, NC restaurants were take-out only and overnight lodging was not available to leisure travelers in Watauga County. Playgrounds, courts, and picnic shelters were also closed during Phase I. As many of you remain at home, feel free to check out our shops online in the meantime.

Phase 2 began on May 22, and the Stay at Home Order is lifted, replaced by a Safer at Home recommendation. At this time:

  • Our restaurants may re-open for in-house seating for all diners, moving up from their previous take-out only restriction. Reduced capacity will be necessary to allow for continued physical distancing, and extra sanitizing protocols will further ensure diners’ safety. Take-out is still encouraged as seating will be limited- please be patient as our restaurants adjust!
  • Retail businesses are open to all shoppers. They are still be required to allow for enough physical distance between shoppers, so capacity is limited to 50% occupancy.
  • In Watauga County, the re-opening of local lodging begins at the start of Phase 2 as well, also at reduced capacity.  This means that you can enjoy a stay at your favorite Blowing Rock hotel, inn, or rental as early as Memorial Day Weekend. Book now or consider buying a lodging voucher now to redeem later- that cash flow will help them as they welcome reduced numbers of guests!
  • Playgrounds, courts, and picnic shelters in the county also open at this time. Blowing Rock’s Memorial Park has installed a hand washing station for your health.
  • Groups of more than 10 people in indoor settings is prohibited. Groups of more than 25 people in outdoor settings is prohibited.
  • People are encouraged to get outdoors for exercise.
  • North Carolina and Blowing Rock asks everyone to remember the three Ws if you leave home: WEAR a face mask, WAIT 6 feet from others, and WASH your hands or use hand sanitizer often.

Blowing Rock Attractions:

You might find a few changes at some local attractions while we all try to keep each other healthy amid COVID-19 concerns. You can be sure that extra cleaning protocols have been implemented at all of our Blowing Rock attractions.
When making reservations for adventure activities in particular, you should check ahead for details on what to expect. Here are some basics (and links) for attractions in Blowing Rock.
The Blowing Rock– Open daily. Social distancing is encouraged between groups, and you’ll see some new safety measures in the gift shop. Indoor spaces (the gift shop and snack bar) have occupancy limits.
Robbins Pool at Broyhill Park – Not yet open for the season, but Town of Blowing Rock Staff is currently working on a tentative opening date for later this year.
Blowing Rock Art & History Museum– Per compliance with NC’s Phase 2, BRAHM is not yet open to the public. However, they are creating daily content with BRAHM at Home, and have just launched their first online exhibition highlighting outdoor recreation: Terra Ludis: Play Ground.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Local areas are opento vehicles, and trails are available to hikers. Seasonal facilities, including campgrounds and restrooms, remain closed at this time. Park officials encourage visitors to pack out trash, avoid crowds, avoid high-risk outdoor activities, and practice Leave-No-Trace principles.
Mystery Hill– Open daily. All attractions open with some modifications for social distancing. Group tour sizes limited.
Doc’s Rocks– Open daily with normal operations. Social distancing and personal safety encouraged.
Tweetsie Railroad- Park closed for now with plans to open when possible. Watch the website for announcements. Special offer: 2020 Season Passes are also good for the 2021 season!
High Gravity Adventures- Reservations available! The park has reduced high-touch surfaces, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and implemented changes to guest traffic to ensure distancing. Group sizes are limited, and a modified operating schedule will allow adequate time for increased cleaning. See more about enhanced policies here.
Sky Valley Zip Tours– Reservations available! Implementing sanitation and personal protection equipment protocols, as well as touchless payment options and smaller tour sizes. All employees and guests are required to wear face coverings while at Sky Valley Zip Tours and throughout their zip line tour. See more about enhanced policies here.
Wahoo’s– Reservations available! Shuttle groups are separated so different parties don’t ride in vans together, and masks are required in vans and while inside outpost buildings. Employees will wear masks when in contact with guests, and work to rotate and sanitize equipment. See more about enhanced policies here.
Vx3 Trail Rides– Reservations available! This outdoor activity is operating as normal with small groups, and personal safety is encouraged.

 

For information about operations of other local attractions, see High Country Host’s list here.

Phase 3 will follow later in the summer, and will reduce restrictions further as monitoring continues.

 

Please contact us if you have any questions ahead of a visit.

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Watauga County Phased Opening Plan

Blowing Rock is located in Watauga County, which has implemented a phased opening plan to begin on May 9, 2020. The current plan (as of May 19) for our county is as follows:

Phase I
Phase I will allow for an increase of services and infrastructure needed before relaxing
restrictions for the sectors of our local economy.
The following measures will be taken during this period:
• Modify the Stay At Home order to allow travel not currently defined as essential by
allowing people to leave home for commercial activity at any business that is allowed to
be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and
other retailers.
• Ensure that any open stores implement appropriate employee and consumer social
distancing, enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, symptom screening of employees,
accommodations for vulnerable workers, and provide education to employees and
workers to combat misinformation.
• Promote telework for nonessential employees statewide.
• Continue to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people.
• Open parks that have been closed subject to the same gathering limitation. Outdoor
exercise will continue to be encouraged.
• Continue to recommend face coverings in public spaces when 6 feet of distancing isn’t
possible.
• Encourage employers to continue teleworking policies.
• Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings.
• Keep Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures in place,, if warranted:
1. Prohibition on short-term rentals; and
2. All residents and non-residents of Watauga County arriving for overnight stays are
ordered, while present in the County, to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days or until 7
days after symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer, if arrival was preceded by
overnights outside the County.

Phase II

Phase II will commence at least 2-3 weeks after Phase I, with key metrics being met. The
following measures will be taken during this time.
-Lift Stay At Home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to
continue staying at home to stay safe.
•Lift County prohibition on short-term rentals, with a fifty percent (50%) reduction in
listed maximum occupancy capacity as rated and published. Family members residing in
the same residence are exempt from the fifty percent (50%) reduction in maximum
capacity limit.
• Campground openings and restrictions can be consistent with those published by the
National Park Services. Otherwise, campgrounds shall be subject to the same openings
and restrictions as short-term rentals during the applicable period.
• Lift County 14 day self-quarantine
• Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, and
other businesses that can follow safety protocols including the potential need to reduce
capacity.
• Open all County buildings June 1, 2020 with the exception of the Lois E. Harrill Senior
Center and the Western Watauga Community Center.
• Allow gathering at places such as houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced
capacity.
• Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings.
• Resume all board and commission meetings with reduced capacity allowed for attendees.
• Open public playgrounds.
• Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings.
* The purpose for postponing the lifting of short-term rentals in the initial period of Phase II is
to ensure restaurants have adequate staffing levels and supplies for the increase in service.
Further, delaying the lifting of short-term rentals allows AppHealthCare staff sufficient time
between each phase and adjustment to carefully monitor for resurgence of transmission.

Phase III

Phase III will commence at least 4-6 weeks after Phase II with key metrics being met. The
following measures will be taken during this period.
• Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing
physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible.
• Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worships, and
entertainment venues.
• Lift all County short-term rental restrictions.
• Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings.
• Resume all board and commission meetings as previous held.
• Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings.

The County recognizes the need for testing, tracing and trends to move in a leveling or
downward trajectory for each of these phases to move forward. In the event there is a spike, the
County will follow recommendations from the Governor’s team, AppHealthCare and all of our
partners to determine if additional temporary County restrictions are necessary.