Gov. Cooper to shift state to ‘modest’ phase two COVID-19 opening


Coronavirus update: Gov. Cooper to shift state to ‘modest’ phase two COVID-19 opening. Graphic by Lauren Wessell, photo by Caitlyn Dark.

Caitlyn Dark, News Editor

Raleigh, N.C. — As the world continues to grow weary of the personal and economic toll of COVID-19 precautions, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proceeds with his multi-part phased plan to gradually reopen the NC economy.

Phase Two is set to begin tomorrow, May 22 at 5 p.m. Given developments in COVID-19 cases in the state, officials have altered original Phase Two plans for a more ‘modest’ development to address contagion issues; though the average daily number of reported cases are leveling off, the total number of cases continue to rise.

However, state officials view this leveling of the daily case numbers as a positive though cautioning indicator to proceed with plans to continue to reopen the state.

In Phase Two, the stay at home order first levied back in March will be officially lifted, though Gov. Cooper still encourages citizens to adhere as closely as possible to the social distancing precautions outlined by the previous order, characterizing the revised Phase Two as a “Safer at Home” initiative.

Additionally, Phase Two will see the opening of restaurant dining rooms at 50% capacity, given the restaurants follow social distancing and sanitization guidelines. This also continues the operation of retail stores that opened to 50% capacity under Phase One. Other businesses allowed limited reopening under Phase Two include pools, some childcare facilities and ‘personal care’ facilities such as barbers, hair salons and tattoo shops, given that they practice recommended COVID-19 sanitization and wear some form of virus protective equipment.

Businesses that were originally set to open in Phase Two but have since been delayed include close interaction-heavy environments such as bars, night clubs, gyms, playgrounds, movie theaters and bowling alleys. Whether these businesses will be included in Phase Three openings is currently unknown.

Ultimately, as North Carolina enters Phase Two of reopening the state, individuals are still strongly encouraged to stay home and telecommute when possible as well as wear protective masks when entering public spaces. As NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a May 14 press release, “our progress as a state is still dependent on our individual actions.”

The “Safer At Home” Phase Two order is expected to run through June 26, where the situation will continually be assessed for a potential Phase Three opening order.