North Carolina will move into Phase 2.5 on Friday

NEXT STEPS: North Carolina will move into Phase 2.5 on Friday, Sept. 4 at 5 p.m., announced Gov. Roy Cooper at a Sept. 1 press conference. The new executive order allows gyms to open at 30% capacity, but bars and entertainment venues remain closed. Screengrab courtesy of NCDHHS

North Carolina will move into “Safer at Home” Phase 2.5 on Friday, Sept. 4 at 5 p.m., announced Gov. Roy Cooper during a Sept. 1 press conference. The move comes more than three months after the state first transitioned into Phase 2 at the end of May. 

Under the new order, gyms and other fitness facilities will be allowed to open at 30% capacity, museums and aquariums will open at 50% capacity and playgrounds will open with no capacity limits, Cooper explained. Statewide mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Bars, nightclubs, amusement parks, movie theaters and other entertainment venues will remain closed at this time, Cooper added. The order, which lasts through Friday, Oct. 2, will not affect current requirements for restaurants, breweries, retail shops or large venues, and at-risk individuals are still encouraged to stay at home. 

The executive order also states that children age five and older are now expected to wear a face covering in all public settings. Previously, children 11 years or younger were exempt.

“Phase 2.5 continues our state’s dimmer-switch approach to easing some restrictions,” Cooper said. “But I want to be clear: We can continue to do this safely only if we keep doing what we know works, wearing masks and social distancing.” 

The announcement was partially driven by a stabilization of the state’s key metrics used to track the spread of COVID-19, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services. The number of COVID-like cases reported to emergency departments — one of the earliest indicators of community spread of the coronavirus — are decreasing, she said, as are hospitalizations. The overall case count and the rate of positive tests remain stable. 

Cohen also released a new secretarial order permitting outdoor visitation at skilled nursing facilities across the state, marking the first time facility residents have been allowed to see outside visitors since March. Outdoor visitation will not occur at facilities experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak; all facilities allowing visitors must have a written infection control and testing plan for COVID-19. 

Phase 2.5 will only be successful if everyone continues to practice the 3Ws —wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart and wash hands regularly, Cooper emphasised. Until a vaccine is available, these tools will be the only way to keep viral spread low as the state continues to move forward with reopening. 

“I’ve seen the tremendous things North Carolinians can do to take care of each other after a storm, a flood, even an earthquake or a local crisis,” Cooper said. “A mask isn’t hard at all compared to the lengths I’ve seen people go to help each other.” 

Read the full executive order here

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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9 thoughts on “North Carolina will move into Phase 2.5 on Friday

  1. Proudly Unaffiliated

    Comrade Cooper is a total fraud. He has kept so many businesses closed but now he has been pushed back so now he makes up more BS to convince us he has a plan. His plan is to create stress and destruction to our economy because he is being told by someone else to do so. Roy, the Boy the puppet, needs to be kicked to the curb on Nov. 3rd.

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    • luther blissett

      “Comrade Cooper”? Such a quick way to show how unserious you are.

      It’s obviously better politics to open a few more things before the Labor Day weekend than after, and there’s pragmatic value in doing so if people would otherwise go to SC/GA/TN, etc. But every reopening is an experiment, and when you’re running experiments it’s better to change one variable at a time. There are limits to this, of course, but it feels like a gamble to assume that any upticks associated with the return to school and college are now fully factored into the data. On the other hand, it’s probably more straightforward to track and trace any outbreaks associated with gyms given that every member signs in.

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  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Pray for the total annihilation of Roy Cooper just as soon as possible.

      • luther blissett

        To be fair, we don’t know whether he’s praying to Rudra, the Vedic god of destruction.

        I mean, Cooper’s a centrist who is really running against a legislature that has been radicalized by its gerrymandered lack of accountability and Art Pope’s pile of cash.

        Bars are a hard problem to solve, because the math of operating at 30-50% capacity (esp. on weekends) with a bunch of fixed operating costs is as bad as staying closed (you can’t turn off 50-70% of the lights and especially not the A/C) and the basic architecture is as bad as, you know, churches or movie theaters.

        A workable reopening policy probably gets devolved to the county or municipal level and will have to lean heavily on the membership system for private clubs: perhaps no new members (or new memberships limited to county residents), perhaps no guest sign-ins. That makes contact tracing possible.

  3. NFB

    Cooper has been an infinitely better governor that Pat McCrory (granted, not a very hig bar) and is head and shoulders over theocrat Dan Forest (again, not a high bar) who can’t come up with a better campaign slogan than “run Forest run.”

    Four more years.

  4. Jim

    Asheville bar owners, sucks you voted Demunist, hope you now understand what the “right wing” mean by “free market”… Funny how Breweries can be open, but you and your employees can just continue to be broke.

  5. Jim

    Coming next… phase 2.75. 2.875, 2.90, 2.950… Whatever it takes, because Orange Man Bad.

  6. Keith

    Donner Party republicans are really really dying to get to herd immunity. Really, dying.

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