Governor Roy Cooper announced Thursday that North Carolina’s stay at home order will be extended through May 8.
Orders extending closure of dine-in restaurant service and other close-contact businesses will also be extended through May 8.
During a press conference, Cooper shared details about North Carolina’s plan to lift restrictions in three phases once data shows that key metrics are headed in the right direction. Key metrics include a 14-day downward trend in coronavirus-like illnesses and lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus.
“The health and safety of people in North Carolina must be our top priority,” Cooper said. “This plan provides a road map for us to begin easing restrictions in stages to push our economy forward.”
Cooper also shared information about how North Carolina will gradually re-open over three phases to prevent hot spots of viral spread while also beginning to bring the economy back.
In Phase 1, the stay at home order will be modified to allow non-essential travel to businesses like clothing stores, sporting goods stores, bookstores and other retailers. Any stores open will be expected to maintain social distancing and enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, as well as symptom screening for employees.
Getherings will continue to be limited to no more than 10 people, and face coverings will still be recommended in public when six feet of distancing is not possible.
Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures may remain in place, Cooper said.
During Phase 2, which will take place at least 2 to 3 weeks after Phase 1, the stay at home order will be lifted with "strong encouragement" for vulnerable populations to remain home.
Restaurants, bars, fitness centers and other businesses that can follow safety protocols and potentially reduce capacity will be allowed limited opening. Gathering at places like houses of worship and entertainment venues will be allowed at reduced capacity.
The number of people allowed at gatherings will also increase.
During Phase 3, at least 4 to 6 weeks after Phase 2, restrictions will be lessened for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible.
Restaurants, bars and businesses, as well as houses of worship and entertainment venues, will be allowed increased capacity. The number of people allowed at gatherings will increase again.
During all three phases, rigorous restrictions will be continued on nursing homes and other congregant care settings.
“North Carolina cannot stay at home indefinitely,” Cooper said. “We have to get more people back to work. Right now, the decision to stay at home is based on the public health data and White House guidance.”