As anticipated, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that North Carolina will be entering into what he coined as a “safer at home” Phase 2 of the three-phased approach to opening the state. During the two weeks North Carolinians were in Phase 1, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable, however, daily case counts have continued to rise. This prompted the modified Phase 2.

The stay at home order is now lifted, however, Cooper cautioned in a press conference on Wednesday, that it’s safer at home, especially for those at high risk. He still recommends teleworking whenever possible. Mass gathering events are still capped at no more than 10 people indoors, but outdoor gatherings are increased to no more than 25. These limits are applicable to event venues, conference centers, stadiums and sports arenas, amphitheaters and groups at parks or beaches.

While restaurants, which up until now have been limited to take-out service, can open to dine-in customers, they can do so at 50% of their capacity with proper distancing and cleaning. Personal care businesses like salons and barbershops can open, also at 50% of their capacity with social distancing and cleaning. Employees working at personal care businesses are required to wear face coverings. Pools can open at 50% capacity as well.

Unfortunately, some businesses must still remain closed. Those include bars, night clubs, gyms and indoor fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues.

Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps can enroll all children and be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements. Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level. 

Exempt from the guidelines are churches and places of worship, but Cooper said that he hoped “congregations and leaders throughout North Carolina will think twice about what they are doing and look at these recommendations and follow them for the health and the safety of their members.” 

There are no mass gathering cap on the people who may attend a wedding or funeral ceremony. Receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the mass gathering limit. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19. 

Throughout his press conference, both Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen pushed the three Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash. Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people. Wait six feet apart and avoid close contact. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Local governments are able to put in place stricter guidelines if that’s in the best interest of their area.

As of the last report provided by the Lincoln County Department of Health, there are a total of 14 active, positive cases, 40 positive recovered cases and six persons under investigation. 

Most of the businesses in downtown Lincolnton have reopened at reduced capacity. It remains to be seen which restaurants will open this weekend. City Lunch will continue with take-out only. Harvest Moon Grille will not be offering full service, but if a customer wants to sit down at a table in the restaurant to eat, that will be allowed. Graffiti's Restaurant will be open for sit-down dining likely sometime next week. The Meating Place will also not be opening up their in-house seating for a while yet. The owner of Court Street Grill couldn’t be reached for comment.

Phase 2 begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 22 and remains in place until June 26 unless changed or cancelled. 

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