NC will ease restrictions starting Friday. Practice the three W’s to protect against COVID-19.

North Carolina will begin easing restrictions on businesses beginning on Friday, but Governor Roy Cooper says the state must continue to exercises precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under ‘Phase 1’ of the reopening plan, the public can leave home for commercial activity. Retail establishments will be allowed to open with 50% capacity and additional guidance on cleaning and continued social distancing.

Bars and restaurants will operate much as they have, with take-out and delivery options only.

Barbershops, salons, massage parlor and gyms will also remain closed in this initial phase, but could open later this month if coronavirus cases do not spike.

So, what else changes?

Gatherings with friends (up to ten people) will be allowed outdoors, where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is thought to be less.

The Cooper administration is hopeful that schools and universities will be open by this fall.

The governor told reporters Tuesday afternoon this is a “totally data driven decision” based on science and facts, not swayed by recent protests.

“So I am very hopeful as we enter into Phase One that people will continue to be careful and that we can give a boost to our economy, and that we can continue through these phases giving people confidence,” said Cooper.

Click below to hear the governor explain the easing of the stay at home order:

Phase One extends through May 22nd, and if the data is favorable, North Carolina could move to Phase Two and a further easing of restrictions.

But if  COVID numbers rise significantly in the next two weeks, Cooper says the state could stay in Phase One longer or the stay-at-home order could be put back in place.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said the best way to keep residents safe from COVID-19 while re-opening the economy is to practice the three W’s:

Wear – a face covering when you go out or are around others and social distancing is not possible

Wait – at least six-feet apart when standing in line

Wash – your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds with soap and water

Click here to see how Phase One compares to the current stay-at-home order.

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NC will ease restrictions starting Friday. Practice the three W’s to protect against COVID-19.