Loosening of stay-at-home restrictions will likely happen gradually, experts say

Loosening of stay at home restrictions will likely happen gradually, experts say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina is halfway through its stay-at-home order and, based on early estimates, experts said social distancing and the curve is flattening.

If you think of restrictions like a light, things won’t go back to normal with the flip of a switch. Instead, the changes will be gradual, like a dimmer, gently easing the public back to a version of what it used to be.

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Businesses across Charlotte have been forced to adapt.

“Whenever someone eats here they are supporting a small business and they are supporting a dream,” said Tallulah Duffin, owner of Oh My Soul in NoDa.

Hailing all the way from South Africa, Duffin and her husband Richard Duffin have poured their heart and spirit into Oh My Soul. They have transformed a house into a vegan restaurant. It was open only 10 days before COVID-19 forced them to change their plans.

“At first, it was a little disheartening and we felt just a little bit deflated because we just opened up and we were so excited to get our name out there,” she said.

Like all businesses, Duffin is hoping to welcome customers back in soon. But when will that happen, and how? We have a slightly better idea now.

In a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper said three “T’s” will determine when North Carolina can lift restrictions -- testing, tracing and trends.

"In our new normal, you may see more people wearing masks, or having their temperature checked," Cooper said. "A new normal can get us back to work, back to school, back to play, but in a new way for a while."

Congressman and Dr. Greg Murphy said the state is moving in a positive direction and not all, but some, restrictions might be able to be lifted or lightened soon.

“I think opening the door completely, in my opinion, would not be a good way to attack this,” he said.

He cites restaurants, beauty salons, barbershops and churches as places that may be able to open up their doors with changes like mandatory spacing between customers.

“We’ve been able to give our medical facilities time to ramp up,” Murphy said. “Do they have everything they at this point? Not quite, but I think they have what they need so we can relax restrictions a bit.”

Oh My Soul has been surviving on takeout orders, but Duffin said even welcoming a few more people for sit down dining would help.

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“I think it would make a huge difference, I think it is really hard for people to have a first-time experience as a takeout,” she said. “It is a little disappointing because you can’t do your presentation, those cute kind of things you would do at the table and obviously the customer service.”

But Duffin said if the timing isn’t right to ease restrictions, it is better to leave them in place.

“If that is going affect dining as a whole getting us back to quarantine where we can’t do food service at all then we would rather continue doing curbside until we can be 100% certain it is safe for us to do so,” she said.

Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order now aligns with North Carolina’s. Both expire April 29.

If Cooper extends the order, Mecklenburg’s is automatically extended as well.