NC moving into phase 3 reopening Friday, despite concerns with rising cases in northeast region

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — For the first time in more than half a year, several businesses have been given the green light to reopen as North Carolina enters phase 3 of its reopening plan Friday.

Gov. Roy Cooper, (D-NC), announced the phase 3 guidelines in a press conference Wednesday afternoon saying that “I believe North Carolina can do this safely.”

While NCDHHS reported 1,372 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday along with 38 additional deaths, Dr. Mandy Cohen, who leads the department, pointed out that North Carolina’s trajectory of new lab-confirmed cases has been level the last 14-days, and its percent-positivity rate is holding steady around 6.5 percent.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re using this dimmer switch approach — in order to gradually get things back but also protecting from the spread of the virus,” Cooper said. 

Here’s what we know about phase 3 restrictions:

  • Limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 seated guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors only at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Outdoor amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy.
  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators with other safety protocols as we previewed last week.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • A face covering is mandatory for everybody over the age of 5.

“It’s finally our turn!” RCE Theaters – Elizabeth City posted on their Facebook page following the announcement. “We can’t wait to see your beautiful masked faces!!! Showtimes will be posted very soon.”

North Carolina phase 3 restrictions will be in place until Friday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m.

Cooper said the next three weeks will be used to watch the data and make sure the right decisions are being made as flu season approaches and more people are forced to gather inside.

“We want to make sure we keep this window short enough so that we can react,” Cooper said. 

The NCDHHS reports that 15,162 tests were administered Wednesday. Overall, state officials have administered 3,029,942 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the outbreak.

Hospitalizations have also gone up with six more patients hospitalized due to COVID-19. There are currently 956 residents statewide that are hospitalized due to the virus. State health officials reported 38 new deaths related to the virus putting the total at 3,532 deaths total.

“We are seeing higher cases particularly in the Northeast and Sandhills area of the state,” Cohen said.

Chowan County currently has a positivity rate of 9.8 percent, while all others in the 10 On Your Side viewing area remain below 5 percent positivity.

Here are the latest updates in local counties:

Gates: 145 cases — 3 deaths
Dare: 276 cases — 3 deaths
Currituck: 184 cases — 3 deaths
Pasquotank: 711 cases — 31 deaths
Perquimans: 188 cases — 3 deaths
Bertie: 605 cases — 10 deaths
Hertford: 765 cases — 30 deaths
Chowan: 369 cases — 4 deaths
Camden: 116 cases — 3 deaths

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