Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina will move into Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday at 5 p.m. Restaurants, personal care businesses and pools will be able to open with limitations and safety requirements. However, bars, gyms, public playgrounds and indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters will remain closed.
The state’s key indicators remain stable after two weeks in Phase 1, with continued increases in daily case counts signaling a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned.
“North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable,” said Cooper. “Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections.”
Phase 2 lifts the stay-at-home order and moves to a safer at home recommendation, especially among those at high risk. Teleworking is also encouraged when possible.
Restaurants will be open at 50% dine-in capacity with social distancing and cleaning requirements. Salons and barbers will also be limited to 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing requirements. Employees of personal care businesses will be required to wear face coverings.
Gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances. That includes groups at beaches and parks, meeting and event venues, sporting venues and arenas.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said, “From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis. We need to rely upon one another to practice the three Ws as we begin leaving our homes more. When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors.”
Republican State Senate Leader Phil Berger issued a statement in response to Governor Cooper’s Phase 2 announcement. "I’m glad the Governor has responded to the calls of senators, small business owners, and unemployed workers to let them get back to work,” Berger said. "When I asked Governor Cooper to reopen restaurants and personal care services last week, the Governor said it wasn’t safe to do so. But according to data for yesterday, when the Governor began notifying people of his decision, North Carolina had more cases, more hospitalizations, and fewer tests performed than when I issued my call last week.”
Berger continued, "It seems strange that it was unsafe to reopen last week, but it’s safe to reopen now with worse numbers. This gets back to the central question of what strategy is driving the Governor’s actions. What goal does he think is achievable?”
The Safer At Home Phase 2 will run through at least June 26.