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North Carolina enters Phase 3 Friday: What you need to know

This phase of reopening will begin Friday at 5 p.m.
Credit: WFMY News 2

RALEIGH, N.C. — Right now, North Carolina is in Phase 2.5 of its reopening plan, but that will change by the end of the week.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state will move to Phase 3 on Friday at 5 p.m. The new phase will be in effect until Friday, October 23.

Cooper said masks are still required but didn't say how long the mask mandate could be in effect. He noted the mandate could last until there is a vaccine.

Read the full executive order for Phase 3 right here. 

What Phase 3 looks like?

  • Ease restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing social distancing 
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship and entertainment venues 
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings 
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate care settings

RELATED: Curve in Context: North Carolina hovers at goal line of 5% positive tests

What Phase 3 means for venues, theaters, amusement parks:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10K can open at 7% occupancy
  • Smaller outdoor venues can open at 30% of capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less
  • Movie theaters and conference centers can open at 30% capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less
  • Bars can open at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 people, whichever is less
  • Outdoor amusement parks – 30% occupancy
  • The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. 

What determines the move to Phase 3?

North Carolina health officials are watching the following COVID trends to make reopening decisions.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness continues to decline.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is stable.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is declining.

Although these numbers are still stable or declining, they remain high. In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to prevent virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing

  • The state continues to have testing capacity and lab turnaround times are averaging two days. However, fewer people are getting tested. Anyone who has symptoms or has been exposed should get tested. There are supports available to help people who may face challenges in being able to miss work or safely stay home.

Tracing Capability

  • The state continues hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

WFMY News 2 will have Cooper's news conference live on our website and on YouTube.