Phase II reopening starts Friday, some businesses remain closed

Published 5:43 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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North Carolina will enter Phase II of a three-phase reopening strategy starting this weekend, although the list of businesses that may reopen is shorter than originally envisioned. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state’s intention to move forward with reopening during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, with some caveats.

“Phase II is another careful step forward,” Cooper said. “Since we announced Phase I, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable. However, the increases in COVID-19 cases signal a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase II than originally envisioned.”

Originally, plans for phase II included allowing restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, entertainment venues, public playgrounds, to reopen to the public, but a continued rise in COVID-19 cases statewide changed that plan.

Under Phase II restaurants, salons, barbershops, tattoo shops and swimming pools can open this weekend at 50% capacity. Overnight and day camps can also open. Childcare facilities will remain open, and can enroll all children. In all those cases, increased safety and cleaning guidelines remain in place.

Not all businesses can reopen, however.

“Some businesses and places will remain closed in Phase II, including: bars, night clubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and public playgrounds,” Cooper said. “This is because the spread of COVID-19 can be significant there.”

Also lifted in Phase II is the state’s stay-at-home order, which is replaced by what Cooper calls a “safer-at-home” recommendation. These recommendations encourage North Carolinians, especially those who are at risk for severe illness, to continue staying home when possible. Teleworking is also highly recommended for businesses, when practical. In addition, mass gathering limitations remain in place, limiting groups to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, including at parks, beaches and on trails.

Worship, religious and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from the requirements of the latest executive order.

Phase II is set to last until June 26.

The full text of Executive Order 141, which outlines Phase II, can be viewed here. For more information on Phase II, and what it means for local businesses, visit and see the weekend edition of The Washington Daily News.