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North Carolina to move to Phase 2.5 effective Sept. 4

RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper announced Sept. 1 that after a summer of hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina will take a modest step forward move into Phase 2.5 starting at 5 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 4.

Mask mandates and other prevention methods remain in effect and are even more important to contain the virus, Cooper said.

The move forward means that effective on Friday:

Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors.

Playgrounds may open.

Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity.

Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30 percent capacity.

Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed.

Large venues will remain subject to the mass gathering limits.

In addition, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen issued a Secretarial Order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited, not having a current outbreak, having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19, and having adequate personal protective equipment. The Secretarial Order is effective as of 5 p.m. on Sept. 4 and remains in effect through Sept. 22.

In her report, Dr. Cohen noted that has seen stability in key metrics, to include the state’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness continues to decline; the trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is stable; the trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable; and the trajectory of hospitalizations is declining.

She said in addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to prevent virus spread.