NC Outlines Three-Phase Approach to Reopen State

April 24, 2020Alerts

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper officially extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 8, 2020, which includes closures of dine-in restaurants, bars and other close-contact businesses listed in the Executive Order 121. Although the shutdown continues, Cooper outlined a three-phase approach similar to the one announced by the White House that North Carolina will use to ease the current restrictions.

Phase I

Phase I will begin no earlier than May 9th and will last a minimum of two to three weeks. Open businesses should screen employees for symptoms, practice social distancing, and utilize enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols. Gatherings are still limited to no more than 10 people, but parks can re-open as long as that limitation is followed. In situations where social distancing is not possible, facemasks are recommended. Companies should still encourage employees to work remotely, if possible. Strict restrictions will remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living settings. This alert addresses frequently asked questions about Phase II of the reopening.

Phase II

Phase II will begin after a successful Phase I, provided the state continues to show positive trends. During this second phase, the stay-at-home order will be lifted; however, vulnerable populations are still strongly encouraged to stay at home. The number of people allowed at mass gatherings will increase. Houses of worship and other entertainment venues will open at a reduced capacity, and there will be limited openings of restaurants, bars, and other businesses that are able to follow strict safety protocols. Public playgrounds will open again. As in Phase I, nursing homes and other congregate care settings will continue operating under strict restrictions.

Phase III

Phase III is expected to start a minimum of four to six weeks after Phase II. At this time, the number of people allowed at social gatherings will further increase. There will be fewer restrictions for vulnerable populations, but they will still be encouraged to practice social distancing. Restaurants, bars, businesses, houses of worship, and other entertainment venues will be allowed to operate at an increased capacity. Nursing homes and similar congregate care settings will continue operating under rigorous restrictions.

Cooper emphasized that the phased approach to reopening is contingent on the presumption that the state continues to show progress. The state may be forced to extend a phase or even go backwards if infections spike or benchmark trends start moving in the wrong direction. The government will continue using the best science and data available to make those decisions.