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Phase 3 reopening

Governor Cooper releases some restrictions beginning Friday

NORTH CAROLINA—North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that he is moving the state to phase 3 restrictions on the COVID-19 virus. 

The restrictions are being relaxed for outdoor venues, movie theaters, bars and amusement parks, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday. Executive Order 169 will continue for 3 weeks through Oct. 23. 

Phase 3 of the reopening will include that large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7 percent occupancy; smaller outdoor entertainment venues, including arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30 percent capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less; movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces at 30 percent capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less; bars may operate outdoors at 30 percent capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less and amusement parks may open at 30 percent occupancy, with outdoor attractions only. 

The governor also announced that mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors and that the 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption at restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended until at least Oct. 23. 

“Our top priority remains getting children back to in-person learning,” Cooper said. “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. The virus continues to spread, so we must take the next steps methodically, and responsibly.” 

North Carolina Secretary Mandy K. Cohen reviewed the state’s latest statistics on the virus over the last two weeks. Cohen said the state’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases, percent in tests returning positive and hospitalizations are level. 

The state continues to build capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread, including in testing, tracing and prevention. State officials said no-cost testing events are being deployed across the state and testing turnaround times are improving. Polk County has no-cost testing available for anyone, whether they have symptoms or not. 

State officials also said a new app has been released, SlowCOVIDNC to notify users of exposure to the virus.  

State health officials said they will continue to watch the trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when Executive Order 169 expires on Oct. 23.