Many North Carolinians were surprised by Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement of a modified “safer-at-home” order.
As anticipated, the order moves the state into the second phase of Cooper’s three-stage plan to slowly ease restrictions enacted to curb the spread of COVID-19. But the new mandate, which replaces the statewide stay-at-home order, contains fewer changes than expected.
“North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable,” Cooper said in a statement on Wednesday. “Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections.”
Following are answers to some questions you may have about the new executive order.
What can reopen?
The order, which takes effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, allows restaurants to reopen for dine-in service at 50% capacity with mandatory social distancing between groups of customers.
Barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors and massage businesses, which have all been closed since March 25, will also be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, though most employees must wear face coverings and customers must stay 6 feet apart. Swimming pools can reopen at 50% capacity, too.
What was supposed to reopen, but won’t?
Earlier guidance suggested that bars, gyms and public playgrounds might be allowed to reopen during Phase 2, but Cooper said these places will remain closed as the state takes a more “modest” approach to easing restrictions.
When will these places reopen?
Likely not until Phase 3, which could begin after the new order expires on June 26. Movie theaters, spas, bowling alleys, dance studios, museums, bingo halls, basketball courts and many other places are also expected to remain closed for the next five weeks.
Can I attend indoor worship services?
Yes, though many places of worship across Moore County are voluntarily offering online or outdoor services in an effort to keep their congregations safe. These services are recommended for older residents, individuals with underlying medical conditions and people in other groups known to be especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Can I host or attend a party?
Maybe settle for a soirée? Under the new order, “get-togethers that do not have more than ten people indoors, or 25 people outdoors” are permitted.
Should I continue to work from home?
It’s “strongly encouraged,” according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The department is also urging residents to avoid “non-essential travel and in-person meetings.”
Should I continue to wear a face covering in public?
Yes, according to state health officials.