Phase two lifts some restrictions, host of businesses stay shut down

May 20, 2020 — Gov. Cooper announces during the COVID-19 briefing that Phase Two will begin May 22 at 5 pm.

RALEIGH — On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina would move to “phase two” of his three-phase stay-at-home plan on May 22, which includes opening up restaurants for dine-in service and salons for haircuts. People can even go to swimming pools so long as capacity limits are observed.  A large number of businesses, however, are still closed and will remain so until June 26 at the earliest per the governor’s order.

In neighboring South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster will be opening up entertainment venues for the coming Memorial Day weekend. Attractions like aquariums, zoos, museums to historical sites are all being given the green light. In addition, tourist attractions like amusement parks, water parks, miniature golf and Go-Kart race tracks are opening. Even Bingo facilities are being allowed to open up.

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has okayed movie theaters, private social clubs, dine-in restaurants, gyms/fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, salons, nail care, massage therapists, and their related schools.

Businesses in the entertainment and fitness sectors will being kept shuttered under Cooper’s phase two order include:

• Bingo Parlors, including bingo sites operated by charitable organizations
• Bowling Alleys
• Indoor Exercise Facilities ( e.g., yoga studios, dance studios, martial arts facilities,
indoor trampoline and rock climbing facilities)
• Gyms
• Indoor Fitness Facilities, including but not limited to indoor basketball courts,
volleyball courts, racquetball courts, squash courts, and tennis courts
• Health Clubs and Fitness Centers
• Movie Theaters
• Skating Rinks
• Gaming and business establishments which allow gaming activities ( e.g., video
poker, gaming, sweepstakes, video games, arcade games, pinball machines or other
computer, electronic or mechanical devices played for amusement)
• Venues for Receptions or Parties
• Museums
• Amusement Parks
• Bars
• Night Clubs, Dance Halls, or Music Halls where patrons are not seated.

The only way one of the above businesses can partially operate is if they have a retail or dining component. If such a component exists, it is subject to the same guidelines and safety precautions as the retail and restaurants in the order.

According to Cooper’s phase two order, which comes with the tagline “safer at home,” restaurants can open up for dine-in services but only at 50% capacity and using stringent social distancing, signage and cleaning measures. 34 states will have opened for dine-in restaurant service before North Carolina will on Friday.

“From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis. We need to rely upon one another to practice the three Ws as we begin leaving our homes more. When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors,” said N.C. Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen.

Restaurants can seat no more than 10 people at a table unless they are members of the same household and tables must be at least six feet apart, including at counter service locations.

Staff in eateries are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when they are within six feet of another person, but are not required to stay six feet away from patrons.

When it comes to personal care, grooming and tattoo facilities, they also are subject to the 50% of stated fire capacity rule or no more than 12 customers for every 1,000 square feet of the total square footage of the business.  Customers must stay six feet apart at all times, whether in a waiting area or while obtaining services. In addition, the order says that employees of such facilities “shall wear face coverings” unless a religious or age exception (under 12) applies.

Personal grooming and tattoo businesses must also clean and disinfect all equipment that comes into contact with customers. They must also have appropriate safety signage and six-foot markings at the point of sale

The definition of “mass gathering” has been changed in phase two somewhat. There can still only be a maximum of only 10 people indoors, but 25 people are now allowed to congregate outdoors in areas like parks, beaches or trails.

While trails, beaches and parks are open, public playgrounds remain closed.

Unlike other orders, phase two states upfront that attending church, funerals, weddings and free speech activities are exempted.

About A.P. Dillon 201 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_