Cooper announces more “modest” Phase Two opening

By on May 20, 2020

Restaurants can re-open, bars stay closed

Citing the recent uptick in lab-reported COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper announced today that the state will move into a “Safer-At-Home” Phase Two of easing restrictions on May 22 at 5 p.m., a decision he characterized as a “more modest step forward than originally envisioned.”

Under these Phase Two rules, restaurants can re-open at 50% capacity. Personal care businesses, such as salons and barbers, can also re-open at 50% capacity, as can swimming pools. All those businesses must adhere to distancing and cleaning requirements.

The limitation on mass gatherings remains at 10 people indoors, but it is raised to 25 people outdoors in most circumstances. Worship services are exempt from the limits on mass gatherings although Cooper stated that, “We are encouraging [them to practice] social distancing.” Day camps and overnight camps will be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.

But in this more cautious lifting of restrictions, Cooper explained that bars, nightclubs, gyms, indoor entertainment venues and public playgrounds will remain closed. This version of Phase Two will stay in effect until at least June 26.

At his afternoon briefing on May 20, both Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen indicated that the number of new COVID-19 cases being reported was preventing the state from opening more fully.

Running through key indicators and trends, Cohen said the number of North Carolinians presenting in emergency rooms with COVID-19-like symptoms was “decreasing and this is good news.” The number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all tests, was “stable,” she added. And the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is “level,” which is also a positive sign.

But pointing to the recent one-day record of 853 new cases in the state, Cohen said that, “I would have liked to see this trend starting to level.” She noted that while some of this increase in cases is attributable to higher levels of testing — with the state now averaging between 8,000 and 12,000 tests a day — “it also signals that we need to take a cautious approach to Phase Two.”



  • Louise

    I have been very pleased with how well he has been taking care of NC. Until now. Terrible decision. Continue to pray folks. 🙏

    Wednesday, May 20 @ 6:51 pm
  • Dave H

    Funny how salons, barbers and restaurants can be safely opened, but gyms and bars can’t! Where’s the “science” behind that? Maybe these other businesses should fire up lawsuits that the state will inevitably lose, much as the salons threatened to!

    Wednesday, May 20 @ 8:58 pm
  • Guvnuh Cuppah

    There has been an uptick in positive diagnoses because we are doing MORE testing . . . See how this works, people? It is unbelievable to me how readily we have ceded our freedoms!

    Wednesday, May 20 @ 9:29 pm
  • Trashcan Man

    How many bars can you name in the Outer Banks that don’t serve food ?

    If food is served, it apparently can open. MAYBE you can’t sit on a bar stool shoulder to shoulder with out of state strangers for hours, but who would want to do that?

    Wednesday, May 20 @ 9:43 pm
  • Derek

    A Governor Governs; a Legislature Legislates. Without laws for stay at home orders; wearing a mask and keeping business closed, then the Governor is breaking the law. An order by the Governor is not a law. Let’s see that the laws were in place before all of this started? Ditto with Dare County doing those and keeping Non-Resident Property Owners out. In any event, all of these things are in violation of our Civil Liberties in the Constitution.

    Thursday, May 21 @ 6:43 am
  • obxmike

    Now, does anyone realize just how arbitrary and capricious this man has been? I call him Pharaoy Ramses of Raleigh. So, I can get a haircut, thankfully, but I can’t go train safely at any gym? Totally illogical and beyond any reasonableness. I hope that the owners sue this clown and win just as the churches did. He thinks that anyone who is into fitness must be stupid. Stark raving imbecile guvna! I know many who had the virus late last year, hence the 19 on the name. Yep, we all survived. Go figure, healthy people surviving!
    Science? I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that this is been nothing but Bravo Sierra from the start. Dr. Fraudci, call your office!
    I’m so off the hook furious!

    Thursday, May 21 @ 8:06 am
  • surf123

    This nonsense has to end. The economy has been all but decimated. It’s time to move on and realize there will be losses. I’d like to see a complete revolt where people do as they see fit. I look forward to any and all lawsuits going after the state for putting us in this situation.

    Thursday, May 21 @ 10:48 am
  • Anna

    I know lots of people all ages that had influenza a and b at the same time in NOVEMBER! The doctors were overwhelmed then and gave Tamiflu and z pac and told them to take vitamin c. All patientssurvived!!!!

    Thursday, May 21 @ 10:44 pm
  • Mike

    I wanted to visit for a week, but with no bars and restaurants restricted why bother. Destroying the economy.

    Saturday, May 23 @ 8:52 am
  • Amy Nemith

    Open tennis courts…we are not close to one another while playing and CDC is no longer worried about surface contamination.

    Thursday, May 28 @ 5:52 pm