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The Daily Tar Heel

Bars, entertainment venues in NC allowed to open as state, county move into Phase 3

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that NC's public schools would continue remote instruction through the end of the school year, following an announcement that he would be extending the state's stay-at-home order through May 8.

Update: Orange County has announced it will align with Cooper's Phase 3 executive order, according to a Friday statement from the county. 

This means that mass gathering limits in the county have increased to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. 

In addition, bars, movie theaters and outdoor venues in the county will be able to open at limited capacity. 

“Current trends in Orange County allow us to move forward with the state, but should we experience changes in positivity rates, more clusters or outbreaks or an increase in the number of cases, we will not hesitate to reinstate stricter limits on gatherings and other activities,” Penny Rich, chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said in the statement. 

Orange County's emergency declaration has been extended to Dec. 31, while Cooper's Phase 3 executive order is set to expire Oct. 23. 

Bars and entertainment venues in North Carolina will be able to open as soon as Friday at 5 p.m., Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a Wednesday news briefing. 

The state will be moving into Phase 3 of Cooper's three-phase reopening plan. 

Here's what this means: 

  • Bars can open outdoors at 30 percent capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less
  • Movie theaters can open indoor spaces at 30 percent capacity or 100 seated guests, whichever is less
  • Outdoor amusement parks can open at 30 percent occupancy
  • Large outdoor venues that seat over 10,000 people can open at 7 percent occupancy
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues can open outdoors at 30 percent of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less 

The state's limit on mass gatherings is still capped at at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Restaurants and outdoor bars are still banned from selling alcohol for in-person consumption after 11 p.m. 

North Carolina had previously been in Phase 2.5, a new phase that opened gyms and museums and increased the state's gathering limits, but kept bars closed. 

Cooper said this next step toward Phase 3 is attributed to the stability of COVID-19 cases in the state. But he encouraged North Carolinians to continue to take safety precautions, including wearing a mask and social distancing. 

"I have to tell you that we see warning signs that the disease could spike again, here and across the country," he said.

North Carolina has had 210,632 cases of COVID-19 and 3,532 deaths according to data from the state health department. 

In Orange County, mass gatherings are still capped at 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. This gathering limit will be kept until the county's COVID-19 positivity rate decreases to 5 percent, according to a Sept. 4 press release. 

The county is expected to announce an update to its emergency order in response to Phase 3 later on Wednesday. 

@sonjarao | @DTHCityState

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