As of last Friday, October 2nd at 5 pm, the State of North Carolina moved into Phase 3 of Governor Cooper’s three-part plan to reopen businesses in the state as well as resuming social activities during the pandemic.
When making the announcement last Wednesday, Cooper said that his administration was “cautiously optimistic” about moving forward with the next phase of his plan. He added, “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.”
Some highlights of the shift to Phase 3 include allowing smaller outdoor venues or those that have less than 10,000 seats to reopen at 30% capacity or 100 people – whichever is less. Also, other businesses such as movie theatres, conference centers and amusement parks will be allowed to operate at 30% capacity.
Let’s take a look at what’s new in Phase 3, as well as what is staying the same:
- Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators. For example, Kenan Stadium at UNC, which has a seating capacity of 51,000, can have roughly 3,500 fans for home football games.
- Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, such as arenas or amphitheaters, will be able to operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests – whichever is less.
- Conference centers and movie theatres will be able to operate in indoor spaces at 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
- Bars in NC — which have been closed since the start of the pandemic — will be allowed to reopen outdoors but only at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 patrons – whichever is less. For example, if a bar’s outdoor occupancy limit is 500 people, its 30% occupancy calculation would be 150 people outdoors. However, bars may only serve 100 people outdoors, per the terms of this Order, so this bar is allowed 100 guests.
- Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy with outdoor attractions only.
- Meeting spaces in hotels, conference centers, meeting halls and reception venues are allowed to host receptions, meetings and other functions – subject to reduced capacity limits and other restrictions.
- Gaming establishments can reopen – subject to reduced capacity limits.
- Music halls, night clubs, lounges, adult entertainment, venues for live performances, arenas with spectators, and theaters where guests are seated are allowed to reopen – subject to reduced capacity limits for outdoor spaces and subject to the mass gathering limit (25 Guests per facility) for indoor spaces.
What’s the Same
- Face coverings are still required for everybody over the age of 5 years old. In Phase 3, this requirement applies to any public place or business – indoor or outdoor.
- Gathering restrictions will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
- The 11 pm curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will remain in place.
- Indoor seating areas in bars will remain closed.
- Indoor rides at amusement parks will remain closed.
- Fitness and exercise facilities can remain open – subject to reduced capacity limits and other requirements.
- Restaurants will remain subject to limited capacity as well as other requirements for in-person dining.
- Personal care businesses such as hair salons, nail salons, barber shops and more will remain subject to limited capacity restrictions and other requirements.
- Museums and aquariums will remain open – subject to reduced capacity limits and other requirements.
This executive order from the Governor is initially slated to run through Friday, October 23rd. However, remember that Cooper’s administration extended Phase 2 several times as COVID-19 spread throughout North Carolina.
As Cooper said, “Being safe means being smart and making sure others around you are doing the same… Until we have a vaccine or a reliable cure, precautions like the 3 Ws are with us for a while. Our children can go back to school and our economy can fully rebuild when we’re safe, and people have confidence that they can stay healthy. Every careful step we make forward, and every time we wear a mask and keep our distance, we are helping to keep this disease at bay, and building a stronger North Carolina.”
If you are unfamiliar with the 3 Ws, they stand for Wear, Wait, and Wash, as in:
- Wear: a cloth mask over your mouth
- Wait: 6 feet apart, avoid close contact
- Wash: your hands or use hand sanitizer
Until next time, do your part by practicing the 3Ws as we move into Phase 3 with confidence…Community Confidence!