North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper plans to ease his stay-at-home order as evidence suggests that COVID-19 cases have stabilized.
The governor’s executive order, effective on Friday (May 8), will allow more businesses to open and will replace a stricter mandate that he issued on March 30, the Associated Press reported.
“We are easing restrictions in a data-driven way,” Cooper said at a press conference, adding that the changes will “give people safe opportunities to socialize and boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety restrictions in place.”
Protesters have held demonstrations near the governor's mansion in Raleigh demanding that the state reopens.
The revised rule allows retail businesses that were previously considered nonessential to open, but to remain at half capacity while practicing social distancing. Workers are urged to wear masks, the AP reported.
Still, the new order does not provide blanket permission for all businesses to open. For example, bars, barbershops, hair salons and gyms must remain shuttered. Restaurants are still limited to takeout and delivery options, as they have been since March.
While gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited, church services are allowed outside as long as parishioners stay six feet apart, the governor said.
This latest order will expire on May 22; it's unclear what will happen after that, Cooper said.
ABC reported that there were 25 more deaths due to the coronavirus as of Wednesday (May 6). The latest data from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services put the death toll at 477. Nearly half of those, 229, were patients living in nursing homes. The number of confirmed cases is now at 12,758, up 502 cases since Tuesday.
While the number of confirmed cases has risen, there has been a massive increase in the number of tests, and the percentage of positive COVID-19 cases has fallen. In addition, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased slightly from 534 to 516.
But based on the experience of Florida, Texas and Georgia, the foot traffic in North Carolina is likely to be light. PYMNTS reported that there were few shoppers on Monday (May 4), as Florida joined Texas in allowing nonessential stores to reopen. The results weren't much different in Georgia, where shoppers failed to fill establishments at the numbers that retailers need.
However the public responds to the reopenings, it will be a challenge to jump-start the economy after nearly two months of a near-total shutdown, PYMNTS reported.