North Carolina moving to Phase 2.5: playgrounds to reopen, curfew on alcohol sales extended


RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state is ready to move into “Safer at Home Phase 2.5” of coronavirus reopening plane following a Tuesday afternoon briefing.

Beginning Friday, Sept.r 4 at 5 p.m., North Carolina is shifting to Phase 2.5.

The next phase will increase the limits on mass gatherings to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

  • Playgrounds will be allowed to open
  • Museums and aquariums can open at 50 percent capacity
  • Gyms and other exercise facilities can open at 30 percent capacity
  • The age requirement for mask-wearing will include children down to age 5
  • Capacity limits at restaurants and personal care businesses like hair and nail salons will stay the same
  • Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment, and amusement parks will remain closed
  • The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales at restaurants has been extended to Oct. 2

“I want to be clear, we can do this safely only if we keep doing what we know works, wearing masks and social distancing. Moving to Phase 2.5 means we can safely do a few more things while still fighting the virus as vigorously as ever,” Cooper said.

“So let’s keep doing what we know works. Let’s stay strong, and let’s beat this virus. I know we can, and I know we can come out stronger on the other side,” Cooper said.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the number of people going to the emergency room with COVID-like symptoms has been declining for a month.

“Overall metrics show signs of stability,” Cohen said.

Cohen said the trajectory of cases was head down until mid-August when there was a spike among 18-25-year-olds due to colleges and universities going back to class.

The number of new daily cases remains high.

Hospitalizations are declining and the percentage of positives is stable, Cohen said.

“Moving forward doesn’t mean letting up,” Cohen said.

She said North Carolinians needs to remain vigilant to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The unfortunate truth is that this pandemic is not yet over,” Cohen said.

On Aug. 5, Cooper announced the state would stay in Phase 2 for five additional weeks.

In North Carolina, about 923 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, as of 12:15 p.m. Monday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

There have been 2,256,172 coronavirus tests completed. NCDHHS reports that 8.8 percent of those tests have been positive.

The cumulative number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina is at least 167,313, and 2,702 people have died.

NC health officials reported 48 deaths on Aug. 18, which was the highest single-day death toll. The previous daily record was 45 and was set on July 29 and Aug. 12.

As of Monday, Aug. 31, there have been 145,884 people in North Carolina who have recovered.

Close to 35 percent of all the confirmed positive COVID-19 cases reported over the past five months in NC were reported in July.

From the beginning of March to the end of June, NC health officials reported 64,670 total COVID-19 cases. Throughout July, NC saw a rise of 57,478 cases.

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