The small town of Andrews in Cherokee County has put in place some of the most restrictive travel regulations in Western North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only locals - defined as residents of Cherokee County and two of its neighboring counties - will be allowed to enter the town of less than 2-thousand people. It comes as many rural communities and counties in Western North Carolina are increasingly concerned about people who own second homes in the region traveling to them from larger cities with higher numbers and concentrations of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, Andrews mayor James Reid signed an emergency order that closes US Business 19 at the intersections with Stewart Road and US 19/129/74. Robbinsville Road will be closed at its intersection with US 19/129/74. Andrews police will also set up a manned roadblock at the Ty Burnette Bridge on Locust Street and will only permits locals to travel into town. Locals are defined as people who live in Cherokee County and neighboring Macon and Graham Counties. Those wishing to enter Andrews will need to produce valid identification which verifies an address in those three counties. All others will be refused entry. The order does not apply to anyone under the age of 16. Cherokee County has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases west of Buncombe County in Western North Carolina. Several are tied the first case confirmed - an individual from New York who had traveled to the county and attended a contra dance on March 10th at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown.
Both Graham County and the Qualla Boundary - home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee - put in place travel restrictions last week to stop outside residents from traveling to those areas. The town of Highlands put in manned roadblocks on Friday, but did not stop anyone from entering. Those who were coming from out-of-town were told they must self-quarantine for 14 days.
(Update 4/6 1pm) The town of Andrews has issued an updated order that all part-time residents who are coming to town must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. When they get to town they need to call 828-837-7486. This declaration also extends to any guests they might bring to their property.