State enters into Phase 1


Vacation rentals can resume but stay at home order still in effect


On Tuesday evening, May 5, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued executive order 138, initiating Phase 1 of easing restrictions on travel, business and mass gatherings. In the order, he states that the executive orders have been successful in “flattening the curve” and preventing a surge of COVID-19 patients at one time that would have overwhelmed the healthcare system. Although, he adds, the metrics show that cases have stabilized, the state’s daily case count continues to increase slightly in the context of increased testing and transmission remains high.

The order allows most businesses and organizations to reopen beginning Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m. with requirements for retail and other establishments to reduce capacity to allow for social distancing to be maintained. Public parks and trails can open, but playgrounds are to remain closed during Phase 1. Restaurants must continue to offer only take-out orders. Childcare centers can open but must comply to state guidelines, as can day camps.

Hotels and short-term vacation rentals will also be allowed during Phase 1. However, the state recommends those visitors practice stay at home. Those who own the rentals must follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines on cleaning.

Salons, tattoo parlors and massage therapists will have to wait until Phase 2 before they open, as will fitness centers, movie theaters and other entertainment facilities.

Gatherings in the state will remain at a limit of 10. Funerals are the exception, allowing 50 people. Long-term care facilities will remain under the current restrictions. Teleworking is still encouraged.

Phase 1 will remain in effect until May 22. At that time, Phase 2 is likely to begin, allowing more businesses to open. However, moving into the next phase will depend on a decrease in COVID-19 in the state.

Schools remain closed, but the order allows local districts to determine year-end ceremonies.

People are still strongly encouraged to maintain social distance of at least six feet and wear cloth face masks as well as continue to use good hygiene practices, such as washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer and regularly cleaning surfaces such as steering wheels, wallets and phones.

Those who are considered high risk are urged to continue to stay home and only travel for absolutely essential purposes.