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Masks required, Phase 2 extended to Sept. 11: Here's what that means in NC

Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order limits businesses by capacity through Sept. 11, and requires that people wear masks when out in public.

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Coronavirus: After the Outbreak

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on May 20 that enough progress was being made to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and to allow for an end to the statewide stay-at-home order in effect since March 30.

The state moved into Phase 2 of a three-part plan to resume business and social activities at 5 p.m. May 22.

Cooper has extended that executive order for a second time, through Sept. 11, and added a requirement that people wear masks when out in public.

Face coverings required in NC

  • Effective June 26 at 5 p.m., face coverings are required for both customers and employees of open businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, salons and other retail businesses. They are also required for employees and riders on public transportation, for all employees of long-term care and child care facilities, in state government, on construction sites, at meat and poultry processing plants and in farm settings where multiple workers are close together.
Face coverings are recommended for use outdoors where 6 feet of distance is not possible.
  • Exceptions to face covering requirement
  • There are exceptions to the face covering requirement for anyone who:
    • has any medical or behavioral condition or disability that would be exacerbated by the face covering
    • is under eleven ( 11) years of age
    • is actively eating or drinking
    • is strenuously exercising
    • is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible
    • is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience
    • is working at home or is in a personal vehicle
    • would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work
    • has found that a face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle
  • Enforcement of face covering requirement
    • Businesses that fail to enforce the face covering requirement for their employees or customers could be cited
    • Individual workers or patrons will not be cited by law enforcement for failure to wear a face covering.
    • If a business denies entry to an employee or customer for failure to wear a face covering and that person persists, that person may be cited for trespassing.
  • Phase 2 through Aug. 7: What's open, what's closed

    • The statewide stay-at-home order is lifted, although vulnerable people should still stay home.
    • Remote working remains highly recommended.
    • Bars and nightclubs remain closed. Breweries, wineries and distilleries are allowed to produce alcohol.
    • Gyms and other indoor fitness facilities also remain closed.
    • Restaurants can reopen dining rooms but at 50% capacity or no more than 12 customers per 1,000 square feet. Tables should be 6 feet apart, and where people are seated at bars or counters, they should be spaced at least 6 feet apart. It is recommended that restaurant employees wear face coverings any time they will be within 6 feet of another person. Restaurants must also increase disinfection during busy times, disinfect any shared surfaces between each use and mark 6 feet of spacing at cash registers and other places people might gather. DHHS: Guidance for Restaurants in Phase 2
    • Salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and other personal care and grooming businesses can reopen at 50% capacity or no more than 12 customers per 1,000 square feet. Face coverings are required for those who work in personal care, grooming and tattoo businesses. They are recommended for patrons at those businesses. Any equipment that comes into contact with a customer must be disinfected between uses. DHHS: Guidance for Salons, Personal Care Businesses in Phase 2 | DHHS: Guidance for Tattoo Businesses in Phase 2
    • Retail stores must limit customers to 50% of capacity, no more than 12 customers per 1,000 square feet. They should mark 6-foot intervals to allow for social distancing in lines and other high-traffic areas. DHHS: Guidance for Retail Businesses in Phase 2
    • Overnight and day camps can reopen but must conduct daily health screenings on workers and patrons. They must immediately isolate sick workers or children and send them home. DHHS: Guidance for Day Camps in Phase 2 | DHHS Guidance for Overnight Camps in Phase 2
    • All child care facilities are allowed to reopen, but they must establish dropoff/pickup procedures that keeps parents outside and limits contact between staff and parents. Teachers are restricted to a single classroom with a single group of students. Anyone who enters a child care facility must submit to a health screening, and children or staff who share a home with someone who has or might have COVID-19 must stay home. Toys and other shared items that can't be adequately cleaned should not be used. Linens should we washed daily. DHHS: Guidance for Child Care Settings in Phase 2
    • Swimming pools can open at 50% capacity or no more than one person per 33 square feet of deck area. Ten people can be in the water for every 1,000 square feet. DHHS: Guidance for Public Pools and Spas in Phase 2
    Restaurants, salons and pools can open in Phase 2, with capacity limits and other safety measures.
  • People can gather in small groups of no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. These limits apply to sports arenas, amphitheaters, parks and beaches.
  • While there are no state-imposed limits on religious and worship services, funerals and weddings, it is recommended that groups of people from different households maintain at least 6 feet of space between them. DHHS Guidance for Places of Worship in Phase 2
  • Public playgrounds remain closed.
  • Entertainment venues, including movie theaters, museums, gaming parlors and amusement parks remain closed. Drive-in theaters may open so long as patrons stay in their cars.
  • Sports and shows, like concerts, can be held in indoor or outdoor venues with a capacity of at least 500 for the purposes of recording and broadcast. Performers, players and staff are not counted toward capacity limits. Spectators are allowed, where 6 feet of distance can be maintained, at up to 10 indoors or 25 outdoors. DHHS: Guidance for Large Venues in Phase 2
  • Strict rules and restrictions stay in place at nursing homes and other care facilities, including rehab centers and hospitals. Visitors are banned.
  • What's open: Restaurants, salons, barber shops, camps and public pools, but with limited on capacity and cleaning requirements.
    What's closed: Playgrounds, bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor fitness centers and entertainment venues
    Bars, gyms, playgrounds and other indoor entertainment venues remain closed in Phase 2

    Phase 3

    Phase 3 will take effect no sooner than Aug. 7, 2020
    • Vulnerable people should stay home or avoid crowded spaces.
    • More businesses could reopen and those open could increase capacity.
    • Gov. Cooper has not defined a specific timeline to reopen playgrounds, bars, nightclubs, sports arenas and gyms.
    • Larger groups can gather again.
    • Strict rules and restrictions stay in place at nursing homes and other care facilities, including rehab centers and hospitals.

    Have more questions?

    See graphics outlining the three phases or read the governor's latest executive order, which outlines in detail what is and is not allowed.


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