COVID recovery Phase 2.5 goes into effect Friday

Gov. Roy Cooper
Gov. Roy Cooper

Mass gatherings can be larger, museums and aquariums can reopen at 50 percent capacity, and gyms can again welcome up to 30 percent of their normal number of customers starting this Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced today.

Cooper said that North Carolina numbers are improving in the fight against COVID-19 to the point that the state can move into Phase 2.5, which he called a “dimmer switch” response to the improvements in virus numbers. The state is continuing to slowly reopen as officials see improvements in the rate of transmission in the pandemic.

Cooper explained that under the graduated reopening plan, which goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m., bars, night clubs and theaters will remain closed. Mass gatherings such as meeting and worship services can increase their numbers to 25 inside and 50 outside, with proper social distancing. Museums, aquariums and similar attractions may open, but may only allow 50 percent of normal capacity. There are no restrictions on playgrounds, Cooper said.

Gyms may also reopen, but only to 30 percent of their normal capacity, Cooper said.

At risk people should continue to stay home and avoid crowds or possible exposure, Cooper said.

The governor and Sec. of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen continued to push the “Three Ws” – wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart – and said that “most of” the state” should be proud at the stabilizing and falling numbers.

Cohen said the number of positive tests is dropping, but so are the number of tests being performed. She urged anyone that may have been exposed or is at risk to get tested immediately. Test results are being made available at a significantly faster rate than previously, Cohen said.

Cooper said that some things will not change – bars and nightclubs must remain closed, and the 11 p.m. cutoff time for alcohol in restaurants will remain in place until Oct. 2.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at