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State to enter Phase 2.5 of reopening

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that the state will take a gradual step toward easing COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday, but will not fully move to Phase III of reopening. Instead, the North Carolina will move to “Phase 2.5,” which allows some additional businesses and facilities to reopen, but keeps others closed.

“Safer at Home Phase 2.5 continues our state’s dimmer switch approach to easing some restrictions,” Cooper said. “We can do this safely only if we keep doing what we know works — wearing masks and social distancing. In fact, a new phase is exactly when we need to take this virus even more seriously.”

The following changes will take effect Friday at 5 p.m.:

  • Limits on mass gatherings will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • Playgrounds will be allowed to open.
  • Museums and aquariums can open at 50% capacity.
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts and rock climbing facilities, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball courts, volleyball courts and others may open at 30% capacity.
  • The age requirement for mask wearing will include children down to age 5.
  • In all cases, additional health and safety measures are required.

What doesn’t change under Phase 2.5, however, is that bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment, dance halls and amusement parks will remain closed.

Capacity limits at restaurants and personal care businesses like hair and nail salons will likewise remain the same. Those who might be more susceptible to the virus, including individuals over the age of 65 and those who have health risks, are still encouraged to exercise additional caution.

In addition, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen issued a secretarial order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements. A full copy of the governor’s latest executive order can be viewed here.