Reopening the Carolinas: Here’s what is now open, still closed

North Carolina

Phase 2

Governor Cooper issued Executive Order No. 141 that outlines what is allowed in North Carolina under Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. The Order moves North Carolina into a Safer at Home “Phase 2” of easing certain COVID-10 restrictions. The information is subject to change in light of new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.

Below are answers to Frequently Asked Questions from the State of North Carolina.

  • Phase 2 begins on Friday, May 22, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. and remains in place until June 26, 2020, unless changed or canceled.
  • The Order lifts the Stay at Home Order. However, it is important to stay home if you are sick.
  • While in public, people should wear a cloth face covering, practice social distancing by waiting six feet apart from others while in public, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • High-risk individuals are urged to stay at home and travel only for absolutely essential purposes. The CDC defines high-risk individuals as:
  1. People 65 years or older; and
  2. People of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, including: people who are immunocompromised or have chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, or liver disease.

Phase 2 does the following:

  • Lifts the Stay at Home Order and moves the state to a Safer at Home recommendation;
  • Allows restaurants to open for on-premises dining with limits on occupancy, specific requirements for disinfection of common spaces, and six feet between each group of customers sitting at each table;
  • Allows child care businesses to open to serve all children, as long as they follow state health guidelines;
  • Allows overnight camps to operate, following specific public health requirements and guidance;
  • Allows personal care, grooming, massage, and tattoo businesses to open with specific requirements for disinfection of equipment, face coverings for the service providers, six feet of distance between customers, and at 50 percent reduced occupancy;
  • Allows indoor and outdoor pools to open with 50 percent reduced occupancy, following specific public health requirements;
  • Allows people to gather together for social purposes, so long as they do not exceed the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors; and
  • Allows sporting and entertainment events to occur in large venues for broadcast to the public, so long as the events occur in large venues and spectators are limited to the mass gathering limit of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

What stays the same in Phase 2?

  • The Three Ws – Wear (a mask), Wait (6 feet away from others), and Wash (your hands) should be practiced;
  • Public playgrounds remain closed;
  • Bars and nightclubs remain closed;
  • Movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, amusement parks, arcades, and skating rinks remain closed;
  • Bingo parlors and other gaming establishments remain closed;
  • Teleworking continues to be encouraged whenever possible; and
  • Visitation at long-term care facilities remains restricted, except for certain compassionate care situations; and
  • The following facilities that operate within an indoor space remain closed: exercise facilities, gyms, fitness studios, martial arts facilities, dance studios, trampoline and rock-climbing facilities, roller skating rinks, ice skating rinks, and basketball courts.

What is the new mass gathering limit?

  • In Phase 2, gatherings of more than ten people in a single indoor space remains prohibited.
  • In outdoor spaces, gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited.
  • Mass gathering limits include parades, fairs, festivals, auditoriums, arenas, conference rooms, and meeting halls.
  • The mass gathering limits do not apply to retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming businesses, pools, child care, day camps, and overnight camps. In these settings, there are other restrictions, such as 50 percent reduced occupancy or putting six feet of distance between each group at a restaurant, to ensure that there is not overcrowding.
  • The mass gathering limits do not include gatherings for health and safety, to look for and obtain goods and services, for work, or for receiving governmental services. It does not include normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and shopping centers.
  • The mass gathering limits do not apply to the exercise of First Amendment rights. However, in these settings, people are strongly encouraged to follow the Three Ws, and should avoid congregating in groups.

What requirements do open retail businesses need to follow?

  • Limit customers inside the store to Emergency Maximum Occupancy;
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at deli counters and near high-demand products;
  • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place;
  • The Safer At Home Phase 2 runs through at least June 26.

For full details, see North Carolina Executive Order No. 141 and the associated Frequently Asked Questions. See the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service’s website for additional COVID-19 guidance.

Click here to view a chart of what Phase 2 includes.

The City of Charlotte has developed Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines to assist restaurant businesses during Phase 2. The guidelines allow for restaurants to utilize parking spaces and extra sidewalk/street space for temporary outdoor dining conversion.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has implemented a three-phased approach to slowly lift restrictions while combatting COVID-19, protecting North Carolinians and working together to recover the economy. When North Carolina enters Phase 2, businesses and organizations should follow the guidelines below to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are required to:

  • Ensure social distancing by arranging tables and seating to achieve at least 6-foot separation between parties for indoor and outdoor dining.
  • Each group of people sitting at a counter should be separated by six (6) feet.
  • Permit no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as stated in fire capacity. Restaurants may permit up to 12 people per 1,000 feet if there is not a fire code number available.
  • Post the reduced “Emergency Maximum Capacity” in conspicuous place. Sign templates are available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.
  • Post signage reminding people about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). Know Your W's sign templates are available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response website.
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as any cash register or any place where customers wait to be seated.

Per Governor Cooper’s three-phased approach, Phase 2 requires restaurants permit no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as stated in fire capacity.

Under the Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines, restaurants may convert up to 25% of the business’s dedicated parking spaces into temporary outdoor dining. This could allow for more dining capacity, while complying with the City of Charlotte Zoning Ordinance and Governor Cooper’s Phase 2 requirements. Total capacity for indoor and outdoor dining may not exceed 100% of fire capacity code. Total temporary outdoor dining may not exceed 49 people.

Restaurants wishing to do so can register their business with the City of Charlotte online. There is no permit fee to enter the program. This program will be in place for 90 days as of May 22, 2020 or full lifting of the Governor’s phased reopening, whichever is sooner.

Restaurants will also be able to expand sidewalk dining during this period without a permit fee as long as they meet the criteria established by CDOT to maintain pedestrian access and safety.

In the coming days a toolkit will also be available for restaurants to utilize on-street parking spaces and excess pavement for outdoor dining as well. Restaurant owners with questions about the Streateries Pilot program can email In addition, restaurant owners can visit the Small Business Resource website.

Temporary outdoor dining must comply with the City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance and not be in use between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Phase 3

To be implemented at least four to six weeks after Phase 2:

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible.
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worships and entertainment venues.
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings.
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregate care settings.

[All eyes on the data as NC inches closer to possible phase 2 of reopening]

South Carolina

Phase 2:

Gov. Henry McMaster announced that the statewide “Work-or-Home” order to be lifted and returned to voluntary status on May 4.

Restaurants reopened indoor dining with special restrictions in place.

McMaster lifted restrictions on boating statewide.

Additional guidance that restaurants are expected to follow, should they choose to open, have been provided by the South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association and can be found here.

McMaster announced on May 11 that close contact service providers can open in a limited capacity on May 18.

Close contact service providers include the following businesses:

  • Barbershops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Body-art facilities and tattoo services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

McMaster announced Wednesday that attraction facilities will be permitted to open throughout South Carolina beginning Friday, May 22nd. The governor’s announcement comes after AccelerateSC has been meeting for nearly a month to determine the safest ways to reinvigorate the state’s economy.

The “Response” component of AccelerateSC has established exhaustive safety guidelines for businesses that have been allowed to reopen. Guidelines for attraction facilities can be found here and on the AccelerateSC website, along with guidelines for all recently re-opened businesses.

Examples of attraction facilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Zoos
  • Museums
  • Aquariums
  • Planetariums
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • Waterparks
  • Amusement park rides
  • Go-Kart tracks
  • Bingo facilities (specific guidelines can be found here)
  • Miniature golf facilities

Governor McMaster also announced that youth and adult sports leagues will be allowed to begin practicing on May 30th, with competitive play resuming on June 15th. Specific guidelines, created by the “Response” component of AccelerateSC, can be found here.

While Governor McMaster never took any action prohibiting day camps, which are popular for children during the summer months, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health and Environmental Control have established guidelines for those planning to hold camps this summer. Those guidelines can be found here.