Gov. Cooper Announces Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions as North Carolina Trends Stabilize
As North Carolina’s numbers continue to show improvement and vaccine distribution increases, Gov. Cooper announced Feb. 25 that the state will carefully ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order No. 195 will take effect Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. and will expire March 26 at 5 p.m.
“The key indicators are moving in the right direction. Our Orange County community has been successfully flattening the curve by wearing face masks, washing their hands and waiting six feet apart,” said Orange County Health Director, Quintana Stewart. “Thank you for your hard work, but please continue to practice the three W’s when you are not with household members.”
“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” said Governor Cooper. “We must keep up our guard. Many of us are weary, but we cannot let the weariness win. Now is the time to put our strength and resilience to work so that we can continue to turn the corner and get through this.”
Today’s Executive Order lifts the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 pm and 5 am. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from 9 pm to 11 pm. Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors with new occupancy restrictions. Many businesses, venues and arenas will have increased occupancy both indoors and outdoors.
Executive Order No. 195 has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity. Because indoor spaces have a higher risk of spread for COVID-19, indoor facilities in the 30%-occupancy category may not exceed two hundred fifty (250) people per indoor room or indoor space.
30% Capacity Limit (may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces)
Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
Indoor areas of Amusement Parks
Entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments)
Sports Arenas and Fields
Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats are exempt from the 250-person limit if they follow additional safety measures. They can open at 15% capacity.
50% Capacity Limit
Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)
Museums and Aquariums
Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
Salons, Personal Care, Tattoo Parlors
Safety protocols such as masks, social distancing and frequent handwashing will continue to be important as people adjust to the new order, health officials said.