RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper has extended North Carolina’s stay-at-home order until May 8.
He said his decision to extend the order was based on data.
“After a thorough analysis of the details of testing, tracing, and trends, and having conversations with Trump Administration officials like Dr. Fauci, it’s clear that we are on the right path but that our state is not ready to lift restrictions yet,” the governor said.
Cooper’s stay-at-home order, Executive Order 121, went into effect March 30 at 5 p.m. and was set to expire April 29.
This includes continued closure of dine-in restaurants, bars and close-contact businesses like hair and nail salons, movie theaters and others.
“I know people want our lives and our livelihoods back, and I have a plan to do that. But first we will need to hit certain metrics in order to do that,” Cooper said.
The governor said he isn’t willing to risk the health of North Carolinians or the state’s hospitals and “easing these restrictions now would do that.”
Cooper’s reopening plan will occur in three phases. The first will ease restrictions on the stay-at-home order which will allow some retailers, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, to reopen.
Gatherings of more than 10 will still be banned in phase 1, Cooper said.
“Our parks can re-open if they follow the mass gathering limitation. Face coverings will still be recommended when social distancing isn’t possible. The same restrictions will remain in place for congregate living settings,” Cooper said.
In phase 2 will begin after a minimum of two to three weeks has passed and certain benchmarks are hit.
“Here, the stay-at-home order can be lifted, but we will still encourage vulnerable populations to continue to stay at home,” he said. “Houses of worship, restaurants, bars and other businesses can open their doors for people as long as they operate at reduced capacity.”
Phase 3 can begin four to six weeks after phase 2 – where an increased capacity at bars, restaurants, other businesses and houses of worship will be allowed.
The mass gathering ban will increase in phase 3.
“If infections spike or our benchmark trends start to move in the wrong direction, we may move to move back to a previous phase to protect our public health,” Cooper said.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, revealed graphics that showed how North Carolina is flattening the curve.
Earlier Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services said the state has 7,608 known coronavirus cases across 93 counties.
Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin announced shortly after Cooper’s press conference that the city’s public-safety curfew would also be extended to May 8.
A total of 253 deaths are being associated with the virus.
This story will be updated.