As COVID-19 trends continue to show improvement and vaccine distribution increases, Governor Roy Cooper announced this week that the state will continue to ease some COVID-19 restrictions beginning at 5 p.m. March 26.
What is staying the same?
The mask mandate remains in effect. Everyone must wear a mask indoors and in all public settings. Businesses must also maintain the appropriate 6 feet of distance requirement and continue to implement other safety protocols.
What is changing?
While continuing to require masks and social distancing, lower risk settings will be allowed to open based on their risk:
- Lower risk settings that can now open up to full capacity include retail businesses, child care, camps, outdoor playgrounds, personal care businesses and museums.
- Medium risk settings that can open up to full capacity outdoors and up to 75% indoors include restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, pools and amusement parks.
- Higher risk settings that can open up to 50% capacity include stadiums and arenas, conference spaces, reception spaces, movie theaters, gaming and bars.
Settings and activities are lower risk when they involve interacting with fewer people, being outside, keeping masks on the entire time, keeping interactions with people short (under 15 minutes), staying physically distant, and avoiding singing, yelling and cheering.
Mass gathering limits are also increasing to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors, and the restriction on the late-night sale and service of alcoholic beverages on bars, restaurants, and other establishments is lifted. See a complete list of the changes.
NCDHHS also updated guidance for schools. Schools should return to in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit, including wearing masks all the time and cleaning of high traffic areas.
“We are in a promising place. With North Carolina’s COVID-19 key metrics improving and vaccinations increasing, we can responsibly use our dimmer switch approach to easing restrictions guided by science and data,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.