CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Gov. Roy Cooper anticipates being able to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. Cooper made the announcement Wednesday.
Mask wearing will continue for now. After June 1, Cooper hopes the mask mandate will only be required in indoor public places.
“Although we’re making progress, we haven’t beat COVID-19 yet,” Cooper said, acknowledging that the virus will not have disappeared by June.
The governor plans to issue an executive order next week outlining safety restrictions for the month of May.
“Each shot in an arm is a step closer to putting this pandemic in the rearview mirror,” Cooper said.
Residents age 16 and older continue to get vaccinated across North Carolina and supply continues to increase. NCDHHS secretary Mandy Cohen says the state has enough vaccine for everyone.
Cooper says with an adequate number of vaccines available, it’s time for everybody to “step up.”
Cooper said almost half of adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot and more than a third are fully vaccinated. Cooper says the next goal is for two-thirds of adults to be vaccinated. At that point, state health leaders believe the mask mandate could be lifted.
“With at least two-thirds of adults vaccinated, our public health experts believe we will have enough protection across our communities to be able to live more safely with this virus and begin to put this pandemic behind us,” Cooper said.
“We can bring back summer to North Carolina,” Cohen said. “We are making progress.”
North Carolina has majorly eased several COVID-19 restrictions, allowing for maximum capacity limits at some places under the current executive order.
The latest order began at 5 p.m. on March 26.
The 11 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol consumption has been lifted.
Mass gathering limits increased to 50 outdoors and 100 outdoors.
The following places were able to increase capacity up to 100-percent:
- Museums and Aquariums
- Retail Businesses
- Salons, personal care and grooming businesses, tattoo parlors
The following places became able to operate at 75-percent capacity indoors and 100-percent outdoors:
- Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
- Recreation (e.g., bowling, skating, rock climbing)
- Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g. gyms, yoga studios, fitness centers)
- Amusement Parks
These other places increased capacity to 50-percent indoors and outdoors:
- Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
- Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
- Auditoriums, Arenas, and other venues for live performances
- Sports Arenas and Fields (includes professional, collegiate, and amateur)
- Movie Theaters (Movie theaters may operate at 75% capacity outdoors.)
- Gaming Facilities (Gaming facilities may operate at 75% capacity outdoors.)
The mask mandate and six-feet social distancing currently remain in place. All businesses must continue to maintain the six feet of distance requirement between patrons and implement other safety protocols as they expand their capacity.
There is no longer a curfew and there are more opportunities to gather, shop and attend events.
On April 7, all residents in North Carolina age 16 and older became eligible to receive the vaccine.
Clinics across our area are seeing an increased supply of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The U.S. is has recommended a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
“We will continue to distribute vaccines in a way that’s fast and fair,” Cooper said.
Many clinics in our area recently opened same-day walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Many students in our area are back in the classroom in some capacity, but not all districts support the same plan. Since those under age 16 are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, health leaders say protocols will need to include children’s safety.