Governor Roy Cooper stated today that North Carolina has flattened the curve, but that the State is not yet ready to lift restrictions.
Consequently, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 135, extending the statewide Stay-at-Home Order through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2020.
Prior to today's Executive Order, the directive was set to expire next Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Governor Cooper also outlined the following plan to reopen the State in three phases:
North Carolina's Stay-at-Home Order will remain in place, teleworking will continue to be encouraged, and restrictions for nursing homes/group living settings will remain in effect in this phase. Parks can reopen, and people will be allowed to leave home for commercial activity. Retailers must continue implementing social distancing, cleaning, and other safety protocols. Mass gatherings will remain limited to no more than 10 people, and face coverings will continue to be recommended.
Local emergency orders that may be more restrictive than the State-wide Stay-at-Home Order will also remain in place during phase 1.
A starting date for this phase will depend on North Carolina achieving further progress towards a downward trend in COVID-19 metrics.
Phase 2 (to commence 2-3 weeks after Phase 1)
The Stay-at-Home Order will be lifted with "strong encouragement" for vulnerable populations to remain at home. Restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship, and entertainment venues that are able to follow strict safety protocols will be allowed to reopen on a reduced capacity-basis. Public playgrounds will be opened, and the size of permitted gatherings will begin to increase.
Gyms and other personal care services like hair salons are expected to fall into phase 2 provided that they adhere to enhanced safety measures. Strict restrictions for nursing homes/group living settings will continue.
Phase 3 (to commence 4-6 weeks after Phase 2)
The size of permissible gatherings will continue to grow in this phase along with increased capacity allowed in restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship, and entertainment venues. Rigorous restrictions for nursing homes/group living settings will continue.
Governor Cooper also said that the State's progress through these phases may not be linear, and cautioned that it may be necessary to repeat earlier phases and the restrictions they bring as North Carolina continues to respond to, and recover from, the virus.
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