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North Carolina to enter Phase 2 reopening today

Restaurants will be allowed to reopen dining rooms at 50% capacity starting Friday at 5 p.m.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina will enter a prolonged, Phase 2 of coronavirus restriction loosening beginning Friday at 5 p.m., North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and other state leaders announced Wednesday.

Under the new order, which is expected to last at least 5 weeks, the following businesses and operations can reopen:

  • 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. Employees of personal care businesses will be required to wear face coverings.  
  • Pools at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. 
  • 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. 

Gov. Cooper: "Restaurants are a major part of our economy, and this virus has been tough on them. As we enter Phase 2, I appreciate that restaurant owners across the state are focused on how to keep customers and employees safe. They know that strong safety precautions will be good business."

In efforts to help keep restaurants safe, NCDHHS developed an online training for owners, managers, and employees of restaurants, hotels, and other businesses. The online training course is called Count on Me NC. It’s focused on advanced cleaning, disinfection, social distancing, and hygiene practices to better protect the public and employees from exposure to COVID-19. 

Bars and playgrounds, which had been expected to reopen during Phase 2, will remain closed along with:

  • Nightclub
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters
  • Bowling alleys

"The increases in COVID-19 cases indicate the need to take a more modest phase 2 than initially expected," Cooper said.

Calling it a 'Safer at Home' Phase 2, Cooper further emphasized, "Just because you can go out somewhere, doesn't mean you should."

Indoor gatherings will still be limited to ten people while outdoor gatherings can have up to 25. Religious organizations are exempt from gathering limitations but encouraged to practice social distancing.

Cooper encouraged the continuation of teleworking whenever possible.

"This next phase can help us boost our economy and that's great, but we can only boost our economy when people have confidence that they're safe," Cooper said.

Phase 1 had started May 8 and ran for 2 weeks, the minimum amount of time permitted under the governor's 3 phase plan. With Phase 2, officials are setting an expectation that Phase 3 would not begin for at least 5 weeks.

"We are moving to Phase 2 but we need to move cautiously," Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, as she reviewed the requirements to graduate from Phase 1 to Phase 2.

Overall the trends have been stable," Cohen said. "But the data also shows us that we need to be cautious, and stay vigilante, to continue to slow the spread of the virus."

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing. 

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive has been decreasing and is starting to level. 

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level. 

"While we're seeing more positive cases day-over-day as testing increases, the percent positive continues to look very good," Cohen explained.

North Carolina has had 20,122 lab confirmed cases with 702 deaths.   A total of 677 new cases were reported Wednesday.

Last weekend, North Carolina experienced another record for the number of daily, new cases when 853 additional cases were reported. The increase can be partially attributed to an increase in testing. The number of patients testing positive for coronavirus remains stable around 7 percent.

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