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Phase 2 Re-opening of North Carolina
Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order No. 141
May 21, 2020

This Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) document provides guidance for the implementation of Executive Order No. 141 (“Order”). The Order moves North Carolina into “Phase 2” of easing certain COVID-19 restrictions to help revive the economy while protecting public health.  his information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.

When does Phase 2 go into place?
This Order begins Phase 2 at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22, 2020 and remains in place through 5 p.m. on June 26, 2020.

Does this order lift the Governor’s Stay at Home Order?
Yes, but vulnerable populations are still encouraged to stay at home for their own safety. The state is entering a “safer-at-home” stance to remind people that they should stay home as much as possible.

What is different about Phase 2?
The Phase 2 Executive Order does the following:

  • The Stay at Home Order is lifted, even though people are still encouraged to stay home as much as possible.
  • A variety of businesses can open, such as restaurants, salons, and barber shops, however, capacity must be lowered by 50 percent and protective measures must be taken.
  • Indoor and outdoor pools may open.
  • Childcare facilities may open.
  • Places of worship are exempt from the order.

What stays the same in Phase 2?

  • Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people (not including restaurants), and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.
  • Bars, gyms, and indoor entertainment venues are still closed.
  • Public playgrounds must remain closed.
  • People are still advised to be cautious and stay home when they can.
  • Social distancing, hand hygiene, and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced.

Does this mean that residents of North Carolina are safe from COVID-19?

The State of North Carolina is guided by data and facts. Enough of the key indicators are moving in the right direction to make this transition to Phase 2. Public health experts’ analysis indicates that if restrictions are eased gradually with safety practices still in place, North Carolina can benefit from increased economic activity without a surge in new cases.

Despite this progress, COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, and state officials will continue to monitor key metrics. COVID-19 spreads from person to person easily, especially indoors or if people come in close contact for more than ten minutes.

What does this Executive Order mean for North Carolina Businesses?

Phase 2 allows for businesses to open if they put protective strategies in place and limit the capacity by 50 percent. Businesses such as salons and restaurants are now allowed to open as long as these measures are taken.

What businesses must remain closed during Phase 2?

The following businesses must remain closed:

Health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, and other indoor exercise facilities must remain closed.

Entertainment facilities must remain closed, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and bars.

Public playgrounds must remain closed.

Are North Carolina restaurants allowed to open for dine-in meals?

Yes. As long as restaurants limit the capacity by 50 percent and establish sanitation guidelines for patrons, dine-in meals will be available. Restrictions include placing tables 6 feet apart and not seat more than 10 members at a table unless they belong to the same household.

What requirements do retail businesses need to follow?

Retail businesses must limit the number of customers in the store to 50 percent of capacity, with no more than 12 customers for every 1000 square feet.

They must mark 6 feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers.

Follow sanitation requirements established in the Executive Order.

What are recommended policies all businesses should follow to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

People are still encouraged to wear face coverings when they are within 6 feet of another person unless they cannot wear face coverings due to religious beliefs, age, or a medical or behavioral condition.

Businesses should still have patrons remain 6 feet apart and follow the sanitation requirements listed in the Executive Order.

Encourage sick employees to stay home.

Promote information and helplines for employees.

Promote hygiene, including frequent hand washing.

Does Phase 2 change the gathering limit of ten people?

Most gatherings of more than ten people are still prohibited, not including restaurants or salons.

Does this Executive Order mean that I can gather freely with individuals outside of my household?

While the stay-at-home order has been lifted, gatherings of more than 10 people outside of your household are still prohibited in an indoor space, along with gatherings of more than 25 in an outdoor space.

What does this Executive Order mean for schools and graduations?

School facilities remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the

2019-2020 school year. NCDHHS, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

(NCDPI), and the North Carolina State Board of Education will continue to work

together to provide for the educational needs, health, nutrition, safety, and wellbeing

during the school closure period.

Local school boards and superintendents will determine whether to conduct

graduation and/or other year-end ceremonies. If these events are held, they must

operate in compliance with all Executive Orders and NCDHHS and NCDPI guidelines in

effect at the time of the event. Local school leaders are encouraged to engage with

students and families to identify best solutions for their communities. Local plans

should include consultation with local public health officials and, where appropriate,

local law enforcement.

What does this Executive Order mean for childcare?

Childcare facilities may open and may serve all children in North Carolina. Childcare facilities must follow these requirements:

Follow all applicable NCDHHS guidelines.

Follow core signage, screening, and sanitation requirements from the Executive Order.

Conduct a daily health screening on all individuals entering the building.

Isolate sick workers and children from the rest of the facility and send them home.

Work with local health departments to identify close contacts of confirmed cases in the childcare setting.

Before reopening childcare facilities must submit the Emergency Childcare Provider Application to the NCDHHS.

What does this Executive Order mean for camps?

Camps may run if they follow the requirements listed in the Executive Order, including daily health screenings, the isolation of sick campers, environmental cleaning and disinfecting, and working with local health departments to identify close contacts of confirmed cases in a camp setting.

What does this Executive Order mean for parks, trails, and playgrounds?

Parks, trails, and beaches must limit the group size so that it does not exceed the Mass Gathering Limit. There must be a daily health screening of workers and immediate isolation of sick workers. Public playgrounds must remain closed.

What does this Executive Order mean for places of worship?

Places of worship may hold services that exceed the Mass Gathering Limit of ten people if those services are held outdoors in an unenclosed space and if attendees follow Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission.

Does this Executive Order allow for people to stay at hotels or other short-term vacation rentals?

Yes, hotels and short-term vacation rentals are allowed. Rental landlords should follow CDC guidelines on cleaning hotels and rental units including using an EPA-approved disinfectant for COVID-19 between customers.

What actions are recommended to protect North Carolinians from contracting COVID-19 when they are not at home?

North Carolinians are encouraged to limit non-essential travel and stay at home if they are sick. People can protect themselves against the spread of COVID-19 by following the Phase 2 rules and remembering the three Ws:

Wear a face covering;

Wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer; and

Wait six feet apart from other people to keep your distance.

Does this Executive Order require North Carolinians to wear masks when outside their home?

It is strongly recommended but not required that a cloth face covering of the nose and mouth should be worn when you leave your house and may be within six feet of other people who are not household and family members. This would include indoor community, public and business settings. These coverings function to protect other people more than the wearer. Face coverings should also be worn outdoors when you cannot stay at least six feet away from other people.

Some populations experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled if wearing face coverings in public spaces, but everyone should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias. If someone is the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the protective nose and mouth covering guidance or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to local law enforcement agencies or other government entities.

What if I am stopped by a law enforcement officer and directed to remove my face covering?

A person wearing a cloth face covering for the purposes of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others needs to remove the cloth face covering, upon request by a law enforcement officer, in any of the following circumstances:

During a traffic stop, including a checkpoint or roadblock, as required by law; and/or 

When a law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause during a criminal investigation, as required by law.

Are funerals allowed under Phase 2?

Yes, funerals continue to be permitted to have up to fifty people in attendance. People attending a funeral should observe Recommendations to Promote Social Distancing and Reduce Transmission as much as possible.

Are individuals allowed to gather but stay in their vehicles in Phase 2?

Yes, events such as drive-in worship services or drive-in movies are allowed if all participants stay inside their vehicles.

Why does the Executive Order allow for some gatherings outdoors but not indoors?

When people gather together, there is always a risk of transmitting COVID-19. Therefore, gatherings of large groups of people must be restricted in accordance with this Executive Order. Where people gather together indoors, the air they breathe is recirculated, and they are likely to touch the same surfaces. As a result, the risk of spreading COVID-19 is high. A recent study found that people spread diseases like COVID-19 in a closed, indoor environment at a rate 18.7 times higher than when they are outdoors in an open-air environment.

How does this Executive Order impact policies set by local government?

Most of the restrictions in this order are minimum requirements, and local governments, like cities and counties, can impose greater restrictions. However, local governments cannot restrict state government operations, and local restrictions cannot set different requirements for the maximum occupancy standard of retail establishments.

This executive order is Phase 2 of lifting restrictions. What will be the next restrictions the Governor will lift in Phase 3, and when will that happen?

The end of this order does not necessarily mean the start of Phase 3. Phase 2 will be extended unless data shows the state is prepared to move to Phase 3. Phase 3 will likely lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to practice social distancing, allow an increased capacity in businesses, and increase the number of people allowed at gatherings. Depending on state COVID-19 trends, restrictions may be lifted more slowly, or some restrictions might have to be re-instated to ensure the health and safety of North Carolinians.

Why is it an appropriate time to lift some restrictions related to COVID-19?

North Carolina is guided by data and science. State officials are monitoring key metrics to know when it is acceptable to move to the next phase of easing restrictions. This is a careful, deliberate process because removing all restrictions at once would cause a dangerous spike in infections that North Carolina has so far avoided. Public health experts and analyses indicate that if we gradually ease restrictions but keep safety practices in place, North Carolina can benefit from economic recovery without a renewed outbreak.

The key metrics show that North Carolina can move to Phase 2. People can protect themselves against the spread of COVID-19 by following the Phase 2 rules and remembering the three Ws:

Wear a face covering;

Wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer; and

Wait six feet apart from other people to keep your distance.