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Restaurants, personal care businesses eye reopening

RALEIGH – North Carolina will move into Phase 2 of reopening on Friday (May 22) and that comes with good news, particularly for restaurants and personal care businesses.

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today (Wednesday) announced that North Carolina will move into Safer At Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22 at 5 pm.

After two weeks in Phase 1, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable, but the continued increases in daily case counts signal a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned.

“North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable,” said Governor Cooper. “Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections.”

Phase 2 allows the reopening (with restrictions) of the following businesses:

Restaurants to open for on-premises dining with limits on occupancy, specific requirements for disinfection of common spaces, and six feet between each group of customers sitting at each table;

Child care businesses to open to serve all children, as long as they follow state health guidelines;

Overnight camps can operate, following specific public health requirements and guidance;

Personal care, grooming, massage, and tattoo businesses can open with specific requirements for disinfection of equipment, face coverings for the service providers, six feet of distance between customers, and at 50 percent reduced occupancy;

Allows indoor and outdoor pools to open with 50 percent reduced occupancy, following specific public health requirements;

Allows people to gather together for social purposes, so long as they do not exceed the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors; and

Allows sporting and entertainment events to occur in large venues for broadcast to the public, so long as the events occur in large venues and spectators are limited to the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

However, there are some businesses that will remain closed, to include bars and nightclubs, movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, arcades, skating rinks, Bingo parlors and other gaming establishments. Public playgrounds also remain closed.

Based on the metrics laid out in April by Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen, North Carolina is evaluating a combination of the data from the following categories that shows the state is stable but still has increasing daily new lab confirmed case counts.

North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing.

North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is increasing.

North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive has been decreasing and is starting to level.

North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

North Carolina has more than doubled the daily testing rate with more than 8,000 tests completed daily on average. More than 300 testing sites across North Carolina are posted on the DHHS testing information website.

Tracing Capability

The Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative has already hired more than 150 new contact tracers adding to the 250 already working at local health departments.

Phase 2 lifts the Stay At Home order moving into a Safer At Home recommendation, especially for people at high risk for serious illness. Teleworking is also urged when possible.

Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.

Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.

The Safer At Home Phase 2 runs through at least Friday, June 26.