With North Carolina’s COVID-19 key metrics improving and vaccinations increasing, Governor Cooper announced a continued easing of restrictions through Executive Order No. 204 on March 23, 2021.
Throughout the pandemic, North Carolina has been guided by science and data, including a combination of four key metrics:
- the number of people going to the Emergency Department with COVID-like symptoms
- the number of cases
- the percent of tests that are positive, and
- the number of people hospitalized. All are showing positive trends.
At the same time, North Carolina is quickly getting people vaccinated. Thirty-two percent (32%) of North Carolinians are partially vaccinated and 19% are fully vaccinated. (These rates include federal pharmacy programs, which will be incorporated in the public dashboard beginning on March 24, 2021.)
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 as they expand their capacity.
What is changing?
While continuing to require masks and social distancing, lower risk settings will be allowed to open up to full capacity, medium risk settings will be allowed to open up to 75% capacity indoors, and higher risk settings will be open up to 50%.
Examples of lower risk settings that can now open up to full capacity include retail shopping businesses, camps, outdoor playgrounds, personal care businesses, and museums.
- Examples of medium risk settings that are now open up to full capacity outdoor and up to 75% indoor include restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, pools, and amusement parks.
- Examples of higher risk settings that can open up to 50% capacity include stadiums, arenas, conference spaces, reception spaces, movie theaters, 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.
Executive Order No. 204 will also increase mass gathering limits from 25 to 50 people indoors and from 50 to 100 people outdoors. It also fully lifts the restriction on the late night sale and service of alcoholic beverages on bars, restaurants, and other establishments.
The Current COVID-19 Restrictions in NC fact sheet provides a complete list.
As always, the North Carolina Division of Child Development & Early Education (DCDEE) hopes you will share information about the COVID-19 with your networks. the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services has a comprehensive communications toolkit with bilingual flyers, posters, social media graphics. video library, and more.