As the pandemic continues to affect the lives of North Carolinians, many are wondering if the state will shut down again. Executive Order 209 will take effect on April 30 and expire on June 1, and it is important for residents to understand the implications of this order. Vaccines are the only way to end the pandemic, and getting vaccinated prevents serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, as well as delays community spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people living in areas with high or substantial levels of transmission wear a mask when in closed public settings, even if they are vaccinated.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has updated guidance that encourages private sector companies to check the vaccination status of their workers. The state has eliminated its mandate to wear masks for most environments, but masks are still highly recommended for everyone at large, busy indoor events. Face coverings are required in certain health care facilities, such as care centers, prisons, and establishments providing shelter for the homeless. The NCDHHS has also updated guidance that encourages private sector companies to check the vaccination status of their workers.
The state has removed all limits on mass gatherings and social distancing requirements, but masks are still necessary indoors. Masks are highly recommended outdoors in crowded areas and higher-risk environments. Face coverings should be worn outdoors if a consistent physical distance of more than six feet cannot be maintained from people other than household members. The NCDHHS has provided a toolkit for businesses and organizations to remind people to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public spaces.
Residents with questions about the North Carolina plan can call 2-1-1 or review the Executive Order 147 FAQ document. The City of Charlotte launched its Open for Business initiative in June to support small business owners through their recovery from COVID-19. The Order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 p.m., and people must stay home between 10 p.m., m. There is growing evidence that cloth face coverings can slow the spread of COVID-19 when used consistently, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Retail business locations with more than 15,000 square feet of interior space must continue to have one worker at each entrance open to the public who is responsible for enforcing face covering and capacity limitations of executive orders.
A face covering is still required in all indoor public settings if non-household members are present, regardless of the person's ability to maintain social distance. Face coverings are still required in public outdoor settings if people are unable to maintain a social distance of six feet away from non-household members. Large outdoor venues with capacity for more than 10,000 people can operate with 7% occupancy for spectators. Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, such as stadiums or amphitheaters, can operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is smaller. Movie theaters and conference centers can open indoor spaces at 30% capacity or 100 guests, whichever is less.
Bars can operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity or 100 guests, whichever is smaller. Amusement parks can open with 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only. Beginning June 26th, everyone must wear a face covering when in public places indoors or outdoors where it is not possible to maintain physical distance from others other than members of the same household or residence. It is important for North Carolinians to stay informed about the latest updates regarding Executive Order 209 so they can make informed decisions about their health and safety during this time.