COVID trends continue to show movement, including increased vaccine distribution and reductions in the percent of emergency department visits that are due to COVID-like illness, the number of COVID-19 daily diagnoses, the percent of total COVID-19 tests that are positive and the number of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations. Because of these improvements, Governor Cooper implemented Executive Order (EO) 204 on Friday, March 26th at 5pm.
But with this positive report comes our standard dose of reality: COVID remains a dangerous illness and all should remain vigilant to help reduce its spread to the greatest degree possible. This means practicing the 3 “Ws” early and often. In fact, EO 204 continues to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing in most public settings.
Executive Order 204
What stays the same?
- Social distancing protocol, sanitation standards, other public health restrictions, and NCDHHS Guidance remain in effect. So staying 6ft apart is here to stay for a while longer.
- A face covering is still required in all public indoor settings if there are non-household members present, regardless of the individual’s ability to maintain social distance. Face coverings continue to be required in public outdoor settings if individuals are unable to maintain six feet of social distance from non-household members.
- Sales of mixed beverages “to-go” can continue(!).
- Bar counter seating still o.k., subject to masking/social distancing rules.
- No more curfew for on-site service of alcohol(!) – EO 195 set that an 11:00pm limit for such sales, so feel free to go get yourself that martini at midnight if the mood is right.
- Capacity limits on all business are increased as shown below in the ‘capacity limitations’ section.
- Mass Gathering limits have increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
- For capacity limit purposes, businesses are divided into three general categories (all subject to the masking and social distancing requirements):
a. Indoors and Outdoors up to 100%.
b. Indoors up to 75% and Outdoors up to 100%.
c. Indoors and Outdoors up to 50%.
- Indoors and Outdoors up to 100% of stated fire capacity (or, if no stated fire capacity, no more than 12 guests per 1000 sq. ft.):
a. Museums and Aquariums
b. Retail businesses
b. Salons, personal care and grooming businesses, tattoo parlors
- Indoors up to 75% and Outdoors up to 100% of stated fire capacity (or, if no stated fire capacity, no more than 12 guests per 1000 sq. ft.)
- Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
- Recreation (e.g., bowling, skating, rock climbing)
- Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g. gyms, yoga studios, fitness centers)
- Museums and Aquariums
- Indoors and Outdoors up to 50% of stated fire capacity (or, if no stated fire capacity, no more than 12 guests per 1000 sq. ft.):
- Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
- Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
- Auditoriums, Arenas, and other venues for live performances
- Sports Arenas and Fields (including professional, collegiate, and amateur)
- Movie Theatres*
- Gaming Facilities*
* May only operate at 75% capacity indoors
For more information on past EOs and other relevant topics, please see our prior ASKLAW blog posts here.
Updated: March 29, 2021