Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the state will move into a modified North Carolina Phase 2 reopening plan effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22, based on how progress has been made in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus. Phase 2 will not include a stay-at-home order, but rather a safer-at-home order, Executive Order No. 141.
“This virus is still a serious threat. But North Carolinians have made changes and sacrifices in their daily lives and that has helped to flatten the curve here,” Cooper said. “That means hospitals and the medical system can serve patients effectively for all kinds of illnesses including COVID-19.”
Phase 1 of the reopen plan started the evening of May 8 and the Governor indicated his office needed to see progress on number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, percent of positive tests against total tests, hospitalizations and several other metrics. While the numbers have not necessarily lowered in many of the measurable areas, sufficient progress has been made to start to return to closer to normal again, according to Cooper.
In North Carolina’s Phase 2, the state will no longer be under a stay-at-home order, but those most vulnerable are strongly encouraged to continue staying at home. With the Phase 2 plan, many businesses will now be able to open that had been closed under the previous order. This includes restaurants for dine-in, salons, and others. However, those businesses will all have to open under some strict restrictions to guide continued safety.
“Some businesses and places will remain closed in Phase 2 including: bars; night clubs; gyms and indoor fitness facilities; indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys; and public playgrounds,” Cooper said. “This is because the spread of COVID-19 can be significant there.”
“Personal care businesses like salons and barbers can also re-open at 50% capacity,” Cooper said. “These businesses will have face covering and cleaning requirements while also reducing the number of people in the waiting areas.”
Also under Phase 2, mass gathering limits will be at no more than 10 people indoors. North Carolina’s Phase 2 is expected to last for four to six weeks, assuming continued positive progress is made. However, it is still strongly encouraged to follow as many of the previous guidelines as possible, to help prevent a surge in positive cases that may overwhelm the hospital systems.
What’s included in Safer At Home Phase 2?
Phase 2 lifts the Stay At Home order moving into a Safer At Home recommendation, especially for people at high risk for serious illness. Teleworking is also urged when possible.
Mass gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances. These limits apply to the following: event venues; conference centers; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches.
Some businesses will remain closed in Phase 2 including: bars; night clubs; gyms and indoor fitness facilities; indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, and bowling alleys.
Certain businesses will be open at limited capacity with other requirements and recommendations including: restaurants at 50% dine-in capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements; personal care businesses, including salons and barbers, at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements; pools at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. Employees of personal care businesses will be required to wear face coverings.
Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps will be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements. Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.
Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.
The Safer At Home Phase 2 runs through at least Friday, June 26.