From our news services

Raleigh–Citing stable numbers of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina would go to Phase 3 at 5 p.m. Friday.

The state will cautiously ease some restrictions for three weeks, from Oct. 2 through Oct. 23, while continuing safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as the state’s metrics remained stable.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of Health & Human Services, reported that while COVID-like cases still show a slight increase, the state’s lab confirmations, testing and hospitalization rates have been level.

The trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.

“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,” Cooper said. “If you’re still at high-risk, you’re still safer at home. If you’re going out, do what works — wear a mask, keep social distancing, wash your hands often and don’t patronize or go to places where people aren’t doing that.”

Cooper said his top priority is getting children back to in-person learning.

“This month marks a major shift for many families now and in the coming months as schools open their doors, some for the first time since the pandemic,” Cooper said. “The virus continues to spread, so we must take the next steps methodically, and responsibly.”

Phase three allows for the following:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
  • 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 be extended to Oct. 23. 

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires Oct. 23.

Read Executive Order 169.

Read the FAQs on Executive Order 169.

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

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