Gov. Roy Cooper has authorized Phase 2 of NC’s economic reopening to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22.
Under Phase 2, some businesses must remain closed, including nightclubs, museums, bars, gyms, theaters, and other indoor venues to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Restaurants, pools, and salons will be required to restrict the number of customers to 50% of capacity, along with social distancing and cleaning requirements.
Indoor gatherings can still have no more than 10 people, but for outdoors the limit has increased to 25 at a time. While religious worship is exempt from this order following a federal court decision, Cooper urged caution, stating, “I hope congregations and leaders throughout North Carolina will think twice about what they are doing and look at these recommendations and follow them for the health and the safety of their members.”
The reason bars, gyms and other venues remain closed to the public is that the virus can more easily spread in those areas. As for when restrictions can be further loosened, triggering Phase 3 of reopening, Cooper said it depends. “We want to look at this timeline and look at the numbers over five weeks.” He said his administration is working on a plan for future phases.
State and federal health officials recommend that those over age 65 or those with health conditions that can lead to serious illness or death from COVID-19 stay at home as much as possible. Those conditions include chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, and anyone undergoing dialysis or with liver disease.
Though restrictions are easing, people must continue to wash their hands, keep their distance from others, and wear a face covering in public to protect the health and safety of others.