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North Carolinians enjoy first weekend with fewer COVID-19 restrictions

Fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks indoors or outdoors in most settings.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Many people in the Carolinas enjoyed the first weekend with fewer COVID-19 restrictions. This weekend was the first time in more than a year there weren't limits on how many people could be inside one place and fully vaccinated people didn’t have to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

It's a glimpse at normalcy but health experts say there is still work to do. There are a lot of people who need to get vaccinated to keep the virus from spreading.

The Charlotte Knights won on Sunday afternoon, and so did the thousands of people who got to enjoy the game, restriction-free.

"It was just nice to be out and about again," Stephany Bergan said.

This is the first weekend in over a year the Knights were able to open up the ballpark to full capacity. Under the old executive order, they could only have 30% or about 3,000 people. Sunday afternoon, 4,663 people attended the game.

Following the CDC's guidance, North Carolinians who are fully vaccinated can also ditch the face mask in and outside.

Businesses have the choice to still require everyone wears a mask.

“I went to the grocery store and I felt like so many people smiled at me and had it been pre-COVID, people are not that friendly,” Ashley Desourdy said. “So, I feel like people are taking advantage of being able to smile and saying hi how are you doing, it’s different."

Many people feel ready and excited to move out of the pandemic, but there's still a major hurdle to overcome.

“Vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective, and vaccines save lives. We need to get everybody vaccinated,” Dr. Meg Sullivan, Medical Director for the Mecklenburg County Health Department, said.

Currently, at least 46% of the eligible population in the state is fully vaccinated. Gov. Roy Cooper originally set a goal of 66% before he would remove the indoor mask mandate. He followed in the CDC’s footsteps because he said the science and data were proof people who are fully vaccinated are well protected.

But, if the virus is still out there, people who are not vaccinated are at risk. So, to keep moving in the right direction, Gov. Cooper said the state still needs to hit that goal and go beyond it.

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“People who are unvaccinated are still at risk of getting COVID and we know that this disease can be deadly. So, no, we are not at the end of this pandemic. We still have more to do,” Cooper said at a press conference on Friday.

There are plenty of opportunities in the Charlotte area to get vaccinated this week. all week long to get vaccinated in the area. The county and CMS are still working out details for several clinics at CMS schools on Saturday, May 22.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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