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As vaccination rates rise, Gov. Cooper eases many COVID restrictions

Statewide mask mandate, social distancing guidance remain in place

Governor Roy Cooper said steady COVID numbers and a growing vaccinated population will allow North Carolina to ease many of the restrictions that have been in place for months.

With Executive Order No. 195 set to expire this week, the governor said his newest order will allow businesses to increase their maximum capacity limits in several areas.

Read the new Executive Order 204 easing restrictions.

Among the changes you can expect to see starting Friday:

Indoors and Outdoors up to 100% Capacity, Subject to Masks and 6 ft. Social Distancing

  • Museums and Aquariums
  • Retail Businesses
  • Salons, personal care and grooming businesses, tattoo parlors

Indoors up to 75% and Outdoors up to 100% Capacity, Subject to Masks and 6 ft. Social Distancing

  • Restaurants
  • Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
  • Recreation (e.g., bowling, skating, rock climbing)
  • Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g., gyms, yoga studios, fitness centers)
  • Pools
  • Amusement Parks

Indoors and Outdoors up to 50% Capacity, Subject to Masks and 6 ft. Social Distancing

  • Bars
  • Movie Theaters*
  • Gaming Facilities*
  • Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
  • Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
  • Auditoriums, Arenas, and other venues for live performances
  • Sports Arenas and Fields (includes professional, collegiate, and amateur

*Movie theaters and gaming facilities may operate at up to 75% capacity outdoors.

But even with the easing of these restrictions, the governor urged the public to act responsibly and continue to wear their masks in public.

“We want to strengthen our economy while keeping people safe, and it’s on all of us to make that happen,” Cooper said. “The last this we want to do is backslide.”

State Health and Human Service Secretary Mandy Cohen said the stabilization of COVID numbers should allow schools to return to in-person instruction to “the fullest extent possible” while following all the public health protocol in the state’s updated toolkit.

Read the updated StrongSchoolsNC Public Health ToolKit here.

The latest vaccination numbers show 32% of North Carolinians are now partially vaccinated against the virus, with 18% fully protected.

Even for those vaccinated, Cohen suggested minimizing your risk by interacting with fewer people, being outside, keeping masks on the entire time, and keeping those interactions with people relatively short (under 15 minutes).

“For us to truly leave turn the corner and leave this pandemic behind, we have to continue keeping ourselves and each other safe,” stressed Gov. Cooper.

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