DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina is prepared to start phase one of its coronavirus reopening process.

This comes more than a month after Governor Roy Cooper issued his stay-at-home order, and businesses closed up shop to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting tonight at 5 p.m.:

  • Most businesses can open
  • Retail will operate at 50-percent capacity
  • Parks are encouraged to reopen
  • Restaurants still can’t open their dining rooms, but you can order takeout
  • Salons, gyms, bars and theaters will remain closed

At the daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Roy Cooper began with honoring those who have succumbed to the virus.

“As we make decisions and debate issues surrounding this virus, we must realize that each number represents the death of a real person. COVID-19 is a lethal threat,” said Cooper. “Separating people from their loved ones at the darkest of hours. And taking our everyday heroes away from us.”

Cooper says that while Phase 1 begins Friday at 5 p.m., the stay at home order is still in effect. He says that it is still better to stay home if you can however, in Phase 1 there are more allowable reasons to leave home, including to help give the economy a boost.

He continues that the indicators laid out two weeks ago – the data and the science – show that the state can move forward.

“As we go out more, we must all get used to the Three Ws – wearing a face covering, waiting 6 feet apart from others and washing our hands frequently,” said Cooper.

As for the local area of North Carolina, Dare County put in place additional restrictions on top of the statewide mandates. 

The county will now end its the “stay home-stay healthy order,” and fall in line with the executive order.

Dare County Manager Robert Outten says he expects people to follow the order.

“For the most part, the business community can now reopen and they have to follow some rules. They are encouraged to wear masks, they can practice social distancing and all of those things. But nonetheless they can open and serve the community,” said Outten. “It won’t be business as usual, but it will be more business than we had.”

Currently, there are 18 positive COVID-19 cases in the county, with 3 testing positive in the last week. 2 are asymptomatic and 1 is recovering, and all 3 are at home isolating, Dare officials said.

Friday morning at 6 a.m., the last round of out-of-town property owners will be allowed back to Dare County. The phased entry began earlier this week.

As we’ve reported, Dare County closed to non-resident property owners for more than a month.
Outten says the restrictions were put in place to avoid overwhelming limited hospital resources. He cites the county only has 20 hospital beds and no ICU.

“It wasn’t sensible to allow a huge population of people into the county. If you have a large scale outbreak, you could not manage, nor could you transport. We don’t have enough ambulances and transport vehicles to move them, wherever they need to moved. They couldn’t stay here because we don’t have any intensive care units,” explained Outten. “That was the reason why we had to keep the population down, until those capacities increased and until the curve flattened.”

Next Saturday, May 16, all visitor restrictions will be removed. Then everyone is expected to follow the governor’s order.

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