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Free, at last! Governor partially reopens N.C. after lockdown
Sunday, 28 February 2021 21:12

From Staff Reports


RALEIGH — As North Carolina’s numbers continue to show improvement and vaccine distribution increases, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Feb. 24 that the state will carefully ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions under Executive Order No. 195, which took effect at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 nd will expire at 5 p.m. March 26.

“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” Cooper. said “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.”

Also speaking at the Feb. 24 press briefing, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said, “Keep wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart and washing your hands. We’ve seen in the past how fragile progress can be, so we need to keep protecting each other while we get everyone a spot to get their shot.”

Among other changes, the new executive order lifted the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

What more, the new order increases the number of people who may gather indoors from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. 

Also, the curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption has been shifted from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

“Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors as they adhere to new occupancy restrictions,” a press release from Cooper’s office noted. “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 percent capacity and 50 percent capacity. Because indoor spaces have a higher risk of spread for COVID-19, indoor facilities in the 30 percent-occupancy category may not exceed two hundred-fifty people per indoor room or indoor space,” the press release stated.

Listed in the 30 percent capacity category in the release are the following:

• Bars

• Meeting, reception and ronference spaces

• Lounges (including tobacco) and nightclubs

• Indoor areas of amusement parks

• Movie theaters

• Entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments)

Under this category, the release noted that sports arenas and fields that are indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250-person limit if they follow additional safety measures up to 15 percent capacity.

Listed under the 50 percent capacity limit  are the following venues:

• Restaurants 

• Breweries, wineries, distilleries

• Fitness and physical activity facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)

• Pools

• Museums and aquariums

• Retailers

• 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,” according to the press release.

On a separate-but-pandemic-related topic, the release noted, “Today (Feb. 24) marks the first day of eligibility for teachers to receive vaccination as the state begins to expand access to Group 3 essential workers. 

“Due to manufacturers’ shipping delays caused by inclement weather, DHHS continues to work with providers to administer both last week’s shipment and this week’s shipment this week and continue to exhaust first dose supply before next week’s shipment arrives.”

In addition, Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends at the press briefing as following:


Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is decreasing.


Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is decreasing.


Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is decreasing.


“In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention,” Cohen said.



Testing is widely available across the state. 


Tracing Capability

There have been more than 716,610 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.


Personal Protective Equipment

North Carolina’s personal protective equipment supplies are stable.



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