North Carolina is set to begin this week the first phase of lifting restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Phase 1 of slowly easing certain restrictions will begin, allowing people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed Tuesday Executive Order No. 138 , which removes the distinction between essential and nonessential businesses. The modified stay-at-home order will allow retail businesses to open at 50% capacity. Businesses are required to direct customers to stand 6 feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available and screen workers for symptoms.
Other changes include the opening of childcare facilities to serve families of parents who are working or looking for work. The facilities are also required to follow strict cleaning protocols. Summer day camps can operate in compliance with state Department of Health and Human Services guidelines and small outdoor gatherings of no more than 10 will be allowed.
“We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward. When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS secretary.
Certain businesses will remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, takeout and delivery. All workers at retail and other businesses are recommended to wear cloth face coverings.
Teleworking is still encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
“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,” said Cooper in a statement. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”
The order encourages cloth face coverings to be worn when outside the home and in contact with others. Everyone who uses a face covering should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias.
Officials have posted a list of frequently asked questions about the governor’s latest executive order.