RALEIGH, N.C. - In a press briefing Tuesday evening, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced he has signed an executive order allowing the state to move into Phase One of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The order will take effect on Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m. and is set to expire at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22. However, the end of this order does not necessarily mean the state will move to Phase Two; if the indicators are not in the right place, Cooper says state officials will extend Phase One to longer than two weeks.
“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” said Gov. Cooper. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”
Tuesday's order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. The governor said North Carolina's "stay at home" order will remain in place, but it will be modified to allow more reasons for people to leave home and to allow for more commercial activity.
In Phase One, state officials say:
- Most businesses can open.
- Retail businesses can open at 50% capacity with frequent cleaning and social distancing.
- Parks and trails are encouraged to reopen.
- Certain businesses (gyms, salons, bars, theaters, etc.) will remain closed.
- Restaurants will continue to be takeout and delivery only.
- Gatherings will still be limited to a maximum of 10 people, but gathering outdoors with friends is allowed.
- Employees are still encouraged to telework when possible.
- Childcare centers that follow strict cleaning requirements can open for working parents or those looking for work.
- Worship services of more than 10 people are allowed outdoors if socially distanced.
If you leave your home, Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said to "Know Your Ws":
- WEAR a cloth face covering.
- WAIT 6 feet apart and avoid close contact.
- WASH your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
More information about Phase One in North Carolina is available here.