NC’s COVID-19 trends moving in wrong direction, NCDHHS secretary says

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some North Carolina business owners say they have no idea if they’ll be able to finally reopen this week.

Phase Two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening plan during COVID-19 is set to expire Friday, but he hasn’t said if he’ll move forward with Phase Three, Phase “2.5” or neither option.

“We don’t know. We’re sort of expecting it to go either way,” said Charlotte Cece, general manager of Cycle Bar Midtown Raleigh.

Cycle Bar, an indoor cycling studio, is not allowed open under the current guidelines.

Cece said the fitness studio is preparing as if they will be allowed to reopen Friday, but they’ve received no indication either way.

She said they’ve reduced the number of bikes in the studio in order to space them six feet apart, installed a new air filtration system, and will increase cleaning and sanitation once classes resume.

“We are still cautiously optimistic because we know with the cases rising there’s always the possibility of not being able to open,” she said.

Cece said not being able to reopen would be disappointing after gyms, bars, movie theaters and bowling alleys were not included in Phase Two as initially planned.

Cooper said the number of positive COVID-19 tests drove his decision not to include some businesses in second phase.

“It is very, very frustrating and very, very frightening for people because our livelihoods are on the line, but at the end of the day we want to make sure that everybody who comes in here is safe,” Cece said.

On Monday, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said the coronavirus tracking trends for the state are moving in the wrong direction.

“Our cases continue to climb and the percent of the tests that are positive continues to be high,” said Cohen.

President of the NC Bar and Tavern Association, Zack Medford, said they haven’t been given any indication of what Cooper might decide.”We were blindsided when bars were left out of Phase Two, and we’re definitely afraid that we may be left out of phase three,” said Medford.

Phase Two allowed restaurants, pools, and salons to reopen with capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements on May 22.

According to Medford, 15 percent of the state’s bars remain closed and that the majority were allowed to reopen because they were inside restaurants, hotels or breweries.

“They are walking by our bars, with our doors shut and going into restaurant bars,” said Medford.  “They don’t even have to order food.”

Medford said they’ll follow any guidelines – even a mask mandate – if that’s what it taked to open up.

“It’s frustrating that we’re less than five days away from what may be Phase Three and we still have received no instruction,” he said.

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