Stay at Home

Capacity Restrictions Lifted and Masks Not Required in Most Settings

On May 14th Gov. Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 215. On May 13, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that the growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.  In addition, the CDC issued new CDC guidance indicating that the face covering requirement and social distancing requirements can be lifted for fully vaccinated people.  In North Carolina, more than half of the population has received one vaccination dose, and North Carolina is on track to have more people be fully vaccinated and at low risk from the disease.  Therefore, considering the totality of these circumstances, the Governor has determined that the capacity restrictions, social distancing requirements,  should be lifted in all settings and the general face covering requirement should be lifted in most settings.

What are the major changes under this Order?   

•    Face covering requirements are lifted in most settings. (See details below addressing where these requirements are still applicable.)

•    Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings.

•    Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings.  (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)

What remains the same under this Order? Under this Order: 

•    Nothing prevents people from continuing to wear face coverings, which are recommended for unvaccinated people and for all people in large venues.  Employers, business owners, and local governments may require face coverings and social distancing.

•    Because children are still unvaccinated and can easily spread COVID-19, face coverings are still required in child care, children’s day camps, and children’s overnight camps.  Nothing in today’s Executive Order changes the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit requirement for face coverings in schools.

•    The CDC has advised that face coverings should continue to be required in several health care settings, in transportation settings like airports and bus stations, in correctional and detention facilities, and at homeless service providers.  This Order continues those face covering requirements.

•    Local governments can implement stricter COVID-19 face covering, capacity, and social distancing requirements.

Face covering Requirements Subject to NCDHHS Guidance  

The following establishments, businesses, and institutions are required to follow NCDHHS Guidance with respect to indoor face covering requirements and all other COVID-19 related restrictions and recommendations:  

•    Schools

•    Child care facilities

•    Children’s day or overnight camps

•    Certain health care settings like long term care centers

•    Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina and North Carolina airports, bus and train stations or stops

•    Prisons and establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

•    Establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

Why are face coverings still required in these settings? 

Individuals in these settings may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and therefore, are subject to specific NCDHHS guidelines. 

Read the whole FAQ for Executive Order 215.
Link to EO 215.
Orange County Health Department's face covering page  

What are the limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings?

On April 28, 2021 Executive Order 209 changed the gathering limits to:

  • The indoor mass gathering limit is raised to one hundred (100) persons and the outdoor mass gathering limit is raised to two hundred (200) persons.

Read more about Executive Order 209.  

  1. Key Points
  2. Easing of Restrictions
  3. Business Guidance
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. NC Order Documents


The state stay at home order is intended to slow transmission of the virus, prevent overwhelming local hospitals and keep first responders safe.