CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina will stay in Phase 2 of reopening for at least five more weeks during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.
The Phase 2 extension keeps bars, gyms, and entertainment venues closed. This marks the second time North Carolina’s Phase 2 was extended. The “Safer at Home” Phase 2 of reopening was set to expire this Friday, August 7. It will now last until 5 p.m. on Sept. 11.
“While we are seeing stabilization of our numbers, that doesn’t mean we can let up,” Cooper said. “We know this stability is fragile, and the trends can change quickly if we let down our guard.”
Cooper said N.C.‘s “dimmer switch” method of reopening has prevented the state from “going backward” as some other states have had to do.
The governor added that the five-week plan came in response to recommendations from health experts and involved the school reopening plans.
“With the hustle and bustle of opening schools, people will move around more - and so will the virus,” Cooper said. “Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina.”
On July 31, the governor enacted a statewide curfew, forcing restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries to stop selling alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m. as bars remain closed.
The curfew will remain in effect through 11 p.m. on Aug. 31.
The governor already announced North Carolina schools will reopen in August under “Plan B,” allowing both in-person and remote learning. This plan involves some students potentially rotating schedules, with some students not coming onto campus at all.
Schools may also opt for complete virtual learning, as laid out in N.C.‘s “Plan C.”
“We want to be done with this pandemic, but it’s not done with us. We’ll continue toward the school year and work together with everyone’s safety in mind. The easiest and most effective way we can ensure our children go to school in August and ease economic restrictions: wear a mask,” Cooper continued.
In June, Cooper announced that residents are now required to wear face masks in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible.
They are required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings.
You can read the “Safer at Home” Phase 2 Executive Order in full below:
The mass gathering limits in Phase 2 are: no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. This applies to event venues; conference centers; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches.
Restaurants were re-opened for dine-in customers at 50 percent capacity, with distancing and cleaning requirements.
Personal care businesses like salons and barbershops are open at 50 percent capacity.
Swimming pools are also open at 50 percent capacity, and overnight and day camps can open with safety rules. Childcare facilities remain open and are now able to enroll all children.
Some businesses and places remained closed in Phase 2 including bars, night clubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, and public playgrounds. This is because the spread of COVID-19 can be significant there, officials say.
The mass gathering limit does not apply to retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, pools, child care, day camps, and overnight camps. In these settings, there are other restrictions, such as 50 percent reduced occupancy or putting six feet of distance between each group at a restaurant, to ensure that there is not overcrowding.
The prohibition on mass gatherings does not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, or for receiving governmental services.
A mass gathering does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls, and shopping centers. It also does not apply to the exercise of First Amendment rights.
However, in these settings, people are strongly encouraged to follow the Three Ws, and should avoid congregating in groups.
Answers to frequently asked questions about Phase 2 can be found below:
The mass gathering limit and other requirements of this Executive Order do not apply to worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights.
Even though there is no mass gathering cap on the people who may attend a wedding or funeral ceremony, receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the mass gathering limit.
Long-term care facilities should continue to restrict visitation of all visitors and nonessential care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, like end-of-life situations.
The restrictions do not apply to essential health care personnel. Long-term care facilities include skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, family care homes, mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.