RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina will enter into Phase Two on Friday evening, and part of the new phase into reopening the state, allows restaurants to resume service in its dining areas.
The top priority as the state eases more restrictions is safety, and continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina health leaders joined forces with North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) to form Count on Me NC, a free online training program to help restaurants, hotels and other businesses learn the best ways to protect customers and employees from the coronavirus.
Count On Me NC is a public health pledge and online free curriculum/course that once completed, gives businesses a logo and sign they can display at their business to show customers they are educated and following social distancing and health guidelines.
“Our economy will rebound when people have confidence in their safety, and Count on Me NC is an innovative partnership to help businesses protect their customers and their employees,” Cooper said. “We will continue working with health experts and the private sector as we work to defeat COVID-19.”
Businesses across North Carolina can participate in this free training that was developed with the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
It includes evidence-based practices on social distancing, employee health and sanitation to protect people’s health.
On Friday evening, restaurants can reopen its dining room at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing between tables.
“Restaurants are a major part of our economy and this virus has been tough on them,” Cooper said. “As we enter Phase Two, I appreciate restaurants across North Carolina are focused on how to keep their customers and employees safe.”
The first phase of Count on Me NC training is designed for restaurants and hospitality businesses that serve food.
The program plans to expand to other tourism businesses, including lodging and attractions and add courses in Spanish by June.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 3,500 businesses have already completed Count on Me NC training with more signing up every day.
Participating businesses will receive printable certificates to display in their establishments to show they completed the training.
“Count on Me conveys a sense of mutual responsibility as the hospitality industry prepares to welcome guests back into our dining rooms and other establishments,” said Lynn Minges, CEO of North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We believe customers will appreciate the commitment participating businesses are making to protect their health, the health of other patrons, and the health of our employees by following the guidance of top public health experts. At the same time, we will rely on our guests to do their part to limit risk to fellow diners and the people serving them.”
Count on Me NC also encourages customers to take precautions before returning to restaurants, especially if they’re in a high-risk population and to be respectful towards staff as they adjust to these guidelines.
Officials say that individuals can take the Count on Me Pledge to practice the Three Ws – wear a face covering, wash hands frequently, wait six feet apart from others – and to stay home if they’re feeling sick.
See which businesses have already completed training and learn more on how to participate at CountOnMeNC.org.