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State to enter Phase III of reopening Friday

North Carolina will enter the long-awaited Phase III of its three-phase reopening plan beginning Friday, opening the door for entertainment venues, movie theaters and bars to reopen after nearly seven months of forced closures. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced the move during a news conference Wednesday.

“Phase III continues our state’s dimmer switch approach to easing restrictions, and it will be effective through Friday, Oct. 23,” Cooper said. “I believe that North Carolina can do this safely. But so I am clear, every gathering carries the risk of spreading this disease. Being safe means being smart and making sure others around you are doing the same.”

Here’s what changes under Phase III:

  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 seated guests, whichever is less;
  • Bars may operate outdoors only at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less;
  • Outdoor amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy;
  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators with other safety protocols;
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less.

At-risk populations, such as the elderly and those with health conditions, are still safer at home, and encouraged to exercise caution when venturing out. Face coverings remain mandatory.

The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will also be extended.

The full text of Executive Order 169, which lays out the details of Phase III, can be viewed here.