RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced April 21 that he anticipates all mandatory social distancing, mass gathering and capacity restrictions will be lifted by June 1.
“Although we’re making progress, we haven’t beaten COVID-19 yet and the virus will still be with us, even after June 1,” Cooper said. “We need to keep being responsible, we need to keep wearing masks. We need to get more people vaccinated and we need businesses to keep paying attention to current executive orders, and future health recommendations.”
Cooper said there will most likely still be some form of mask mandate after June 1, but anticipates lifting it after two thirds of North Carolinians are vaccinated.
A new executive order will be announced next week which Cooper said would outline safety restrictions for May.
The current executive order allows restaurants, breweries and wineries, amusement parks, gyms and pools to have 75 percent capacity with 100 percent outdoor capacity.
Conference centers, bars, sports arenas, movie theaters and other live performance venues will be allowed to have 50 percent capacity with safety protocols — such as mask wearing and social distancing — in place. The 11 p.m. curfew for alcohol sales is also ended in the new order. The sports arena capacity includes high school sports venues.
Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops as well as barbers, salons and personal care businesses can open up at 100 percent.
Cooper said the state wants to get at least two thirds of adults vaccinated with at least one shot as quickly as possible.
“With at least two thirds of adults vaccinated, our public health experts believe we’ll have enough protection across our communities to be able to live more safely with this virus and to begin to put the pandemic behind us,” Cooper said.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said the state has enough of the vaccine for everyone who wants one.
“If we can get to at least two-thirds of North Carolina’s adults vaccinated, we can get back to the summer activities we all love, like backyard gatherings with family and friends, public fireworks, outdoor festivals or parades, all without wearing masks outside,” Cohen said.
Cohen said the state would be pulling out “all the stops” to make sure it’s as easy as possible for those who want a vaccine to get one.
“As the governor said, it becomes really about North Carolinians literally rolling up their sleeves and doing their part,” Cohen said. “That is really going to be the final arbiter on how quickly we can get to two-thirds. I want to see us get to two-thirds and beyond as quickly as possible because that is the way we put this pandemic in our rearview mirror.”
Because no COVID-19 vaccine is available for those younger than 16 years old, Cohen said there would still be restrictions for places like summer camps and summer school. Cohen said she expects masks will be part of those safety protocols.
Cohen also announced the state would be launching a new “bringing summer back” campaign.
“The campaign creates a space for organizations and individuals to roll up their sleeves and do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Cohen said. “It will run during two weeks in May and two weeks in June, during which organizations across the state will rally together to promote vaccination.”
Currently 1,168 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of April 21.