Gov. Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order on Tuesday that will ease some of the COVID-19 pandemic-imposed restrictions.
The major changes are an increased capacity indoors and outdoors for some operations, Cooper said Tuesday in a televised news conference.
This includes museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, salons and personal care shops, he said.
“The new order will allow some places to increase capacity up to 75% indoors and up to 100% outdoors,” Cooper said. “They include restaurants, breweries, wineries, amusement parks, gyms and pools and other recreation establishments.”
Bars, sports arenas, conference centers and venues for receptions and live performances will be allowed to increase the capacity up to 50% indoors and outdoors, according to Cooper.
He also announced that effective Friday, the 11 p.m. curfew for serving on-site alcohol will be lifted.
“The mass gathering limit, which covers other kinds of gatherings not otherwise laid out in the order, will be increased to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors,” Cooper said.
That includes high school sports.
However, Cooper said masks must continue to be worn and social distancing practiced.
“These are significant changes, but they can be done safely,” he said. “We have said all along that the science and data would be our guide in this dimmer switch approach, and they show we can do this.”
Statewide, COVID-19 numbers are holding steady and hospitalizations are declining, he said.
The percentage of positive tests is holding at 5%, which is the goal set by Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Most all of the state’s schools have returned to in-person learning, Cooper said.
As of Tuesday, more than 4.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given with one-third of adults having received at least one dose and 18.8% being fully vaccinated, Cooper said.
The coronavirus still poses a threat, Cohen said, especially the more contagious variants that are spreading in some states.
As of Tuesday, 899,164 cases of COVID-19 have been reported statewide since the pandemic began a year ago. New cases reported Monday totaled 1,062 with 956 people hospitalized.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 11,854 North Carolinians in the past year.