Nearly two weeks after Gov. Roy Cooper detailed his three-phase plan for reopening the state, he announced yesterday that he plans to modify North Carolina’s stay-at-home and transition into Phase 1 starting Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m.
So what does that mean, exactly?
-The order allows retail businesses to open under certain restrictions: They have to operate at 50% normal capacity, require customers to stand six feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer if possible and screen workers for COVID-19 symptoms.
-People are allowed to leave their homes for commercial activity such as shopping at the newly opened retail stores.
-Bars, personal care businesses (hair and nail salons), entertainment venues and gyms will remain closed, and restaurants will continue to be restricted to drive-through, takeout and delivery.
-Outdoor gatherings of 10 or fewer people will be permitted.
-Child care facilities and summer day camps can open under strict cleaning guidelines.
-Retirement and senior-living homes will remain closed to outside visitors.
“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” Cooper said. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”
State officials are urging cloth face coverings for retail workers and for people leaving their homes. Teleworking is encouraged for businesses.
Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the state remains stable in several key metrics, including trajectory in COVID-19-like illness, lab-confirmed cases, percent of positive tests and hospitalizations.
Cooper’s plan contrasts with a proposal floated yesterday by the NC Chamber economic development group, which called for a immediate reopening of most businesses with the exception of bars and senior living centers. The association said the state’s businesses are equipped to provide safe working conditions. Cooper says he has consulted with Chamber representatives.