Phase 3 of North Carolina’s reopening plan has been extended as cases of coronavirus spike across the state. Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina will remain paused until at least Nov. 11 as health officials continue to monitor viral trends.
“We hope greater enforcement, strong community leadership, and more people doing the right things can lower these numbers. It’s critical that we take this time to focus on the basics,” Cooper said during the press briefing.
More than 250,000 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in North Carolina as of Wednesday, along with 4,032 deaths.
“There is no place in North Carolina that can let down their guard,” said State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.
State and health officials review key indicators each week, including the rates of Covid-like syndromic cases, the number of new cases, the percentage of positive tests, and the number of hospitalizations.
Last week, Cohen said the state was “moving in the wrong direction” after surpassing its previous peak of new cases, which occurred in July. North Carolina reached a record of 2,532 new Covid cases on Oct. 15, only to replace the single-day record a day later with 2,684 new cases.
“We are doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. This simple fact is we can’t do it on our own,” Cohen said Wednesday. “Ignoring the virus doesn’t make it go away – just the opposite.”
Cooper stressed for people to follow the three Ws: wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands.
“These are the habits that helped lower our numbers over the summer, and they are still our best tools,” he said.
North Carolina entered Phase 3 earlier this month, cautiously easing restrictions for some businesses while continuing safety measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. The phase was set to expire Friday.
Under the guidelines, movie theaters and conference centers can open indoor spaces up to 30% capacity or 100 guests. Bars can operate outdoors at 30% capacity or 100 guests. Amusement parks can open at 30% occupancy with the use of outdoor attractions only. Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 can operate at 7% occupancy. Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, could operate outdoors at 30% capacity or 100 guests.
Limits on mass gatherings remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars remain in effect until the executive order expires.