Phased Re-opening

In North Carolina’s attempt to stay ahead of the curve, Governor Roy Cooper announced a three-phase plan to re-open our state from COVID-19 closures. Policies were enacted quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic began in order to save lives and avoid overwhelming our hospital systems. While our state has successfully slowed the rate of acceleration of COVID-19, the phased re-opening allows public health officials to observe various metrics, such as testing capacity, when considering how to safely transition back to a more normal way of life.

Phase 1 began on May 8 and lasts through May 22. During Phase 1, the Stay at Home order remains in place, but allows commercial businesses to re-open if they implement social distancing, cleaning, and other precautionary protocols. During Phase 1, changes include:

  • People may leave their homes for commercial activity.
  • Gatherings limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Parks can open subject to gathering limits.
  • Face coverings recommended in public.
  • Restrictions remain in place for nursing homes and congregate living settings.
  • Teleworking still highly recommended.

Phase 2 will begin on May 22, and may include the following changes:

  • Restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity for dine-in customers.
  • Personal care services, like hair salons, can open at 50 percent capacity.
  • Swimming pools can open at 50 percent capacity.
  • Bars, nightclubs, indoor fitness facilities, public playgrounds and indoor entertainment facilities like movie theaters and bowling alleys will remain closed.
  • Mass gathering restrictions will be no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 outdoors.
  • Continued restrictions for nursing homes and congregate living settings.

Phase 3 could begin as soon as June 26, and this final phase will include the following changes:

  • Lessened restrictions for vulnerable populations while still encouraging social distancing.
  • Increased capacity at restaurants.
  • Reopening of bars and gyms.
  • Additional increases to number of people allowed to gather together.
  • Continued restrictions for nursing homes and congregate living settings.

The lifting of certain restrictions does not immediately put us out of harm’s way. Even after Phase 3, public health officials will continue to monitor the situation to watch for a resurgence of the virus, as well as a potential second wave. Keep practicing social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a cloth face covering and take care of your physical and emotional health.

To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 in North Carolina and to learn more, visit or text COVIDNC to 898211. Call 2-1-1 (or 888-892-1162) for general questions or for help finding human services resources in your community.