Lee County and Sanford businesses that were closed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic will open their doors today as the state enters the stage of reopening.

The stores, primarily retail, were deemed non-essential and shuttered 41 days ago when Gov. Roy Cooper issued the order that also included the stay-at-home restrictions.

“This is a careful, modest step to reigniting our economy,” Cooper said Friday in a televised news conference.

The move marks the state’s first phase of reopening which allows some businesses to open, but with safety practices — face coverings, social distancing and hand sanitizers — in place.

Occupancies will be limited based on Cooper’s order that stipulates the number of customers allowed in businesses.

The Salvation Army of Lee County is scheduled to open its Family Store at 305 S. Steele St., today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a news release said.

Social distancing measures will be in place and no more than 10 shoppers will be allowed in at one time, the release said.

Local businesses, like others across the state and nation, have suffered a financial blow as a result of COVID-19.

Of 100 businesses that took part in a Sanford Area Growth Alliance survey in April, 84.2% of owners reported a loss of revenue, according to results that were released Thursday.

More than 65% of respondents, primarily Chamber of Commerce members, said they have continued operating, according to the survey, while 17.7% reported closing. The remainder are offering online or take-out services.

Of the 100 respondents, 85 said they had applied for assistance through two programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration from the federal or state governments, the survey said.

Fifty-nine respondents, or 62.8%, said they applied for the Payroll Protection Program,which provides loans to owners as an incentive for keeping employees on the payroll. Thirty-two of the businesses have received funding.

Another 26 owners — 28% of respondents — applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The program gives businesses having “temporary difficulties” a loan advance up to $10,000, according to the SBA website.

Only one respondent reported receiving funding, the survey said.

“It helps us as our intent was to get the pulse of the business community,” said Meg Moss, executive director of the SAGA-Chamber of Commerce.

It’s not only the businesses that are getting back to normal, according to a county news release.

Lee County Senior Services said Friday that the Home Delivered and Congregate Meal programs will resume Monday. Five frozen lunch meals can be picked up at the Enrichment Center between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Home deliveries will be available between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Call 919-776-0501, ext. 2205, to reserve meals.

Unfortunately, the 2020 Senior Games and Silver Arts of Lee County has been cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Lee County Libraries curbside pickup in Sanford is expanding to offer evening hours. The service is offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but will begin this week staying open to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

While the county parks are to reopen today, Sanford Municipal Parks are closed through Phase 1, a city release said.

Reach Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary at 919-718-1219.

Reach Assistant Editor Nancy McCleary at 919-718-1219.