Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed last Friday announced a State of Emergency for the EBCI, closing administrative offices and outlining an emergency plan.
On Saturday he went further with a series of actions that went into effect Monday.
“The EBCI will suspend all tribal operations and close all tribal offices except for employees who are required to work to maintain critical services of the EBCI,” Sneed said in a release. “Any Tribal employee may be called into service based upon the needs of the EBCI. Any critical employee who is required to work during this amended State of Emergency will be paid double-time for the hours they are required to work. All other employees will be compensated at their regular rate of pay.”
All non-essential businesses closed Monday.
Sneed defined essential businesses as grocery and convenience stores/gas stations, hospital and healthcare services, food pantries and banks, automotive repair services, pharmacies, mail services, sanitation services, banking institutions, residential maintenance and repair services, and restaurants (take-out and delivery only, no outside dining).
“I am hereby issuing a stay-at-home order,” he said. “We strongly encourage community members to stay at home to the fullest extent possible. Please limit all off-boundary travel to trips necessary to obtain medical services and to buy groceries. We recommend families who have to travel should do so with as few family members as possible while performing essential tasks.”
Sneed encouraged exercise, but cautioned people to follow recommendations for social distancing, in particular maintaining at least a six-foot separation from others in public spaces.
“I strongly encourage churches to hereafter suspend all congregational services,” he said. “I highly recommend finding creative ways to deliver your message such as incorporating the use of social media.”
All forms of fishing were closed to everyone except tribal citizens, their spouses and first descendants.
Roads entering and exiting the Qualla Boundary are closed except for travel to provide critical services.
Entrance to the Qualla Boundary is limited to commercial goods/services being delivered to the Qualla Boundary, hospital/critical employees, contracted workers performing critical services, tribal/federal government services, and residents and their families.
Anyone returning home from an extended visit should self-monitor and quarantine for 14 days, he said.
“We are strongly encouraging tribal citizens to remain on tribal lands during this state of emergency,” he said. “If you have a need to travel, please limit to crucial functions including medical/grocery services.”
Access to the Qualla Boundary is limited to these three points, which will be manned by the Cherokee Indian Police Department:
U.S. 441 at Casino Trail Junction; U.S. 19 South at Birdtown; U.S. 19 North at Soco.
The order applies to tribal lands that are not contiguous to the Qualla Boundary, including the Snowbird, Cherokee County and 3,200 Acre Tract communities.