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Governor Cooper Releases COVID-19 Re-Open Plan

On April 23, 2020 Governor Cooper released his COVID-19 Re-Open Plan, which outlines a phased approach to gradually lifting restrictions implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus within the state. 

During his press conference, the Governor identified key milestones that need to be met before loosening restrictions and certain specifications within the stay-at-home order. Those milestones include: 

  • Maintaining or reducing the number of COVID positive cases 
  • Increasing the number of COVID testing to 5,000 – 7,000 tests per day
  • Monitoring the trajectory of positive COVID tests as a percentage of total tests 
  • Increasing the case tracking
  • Ensuring adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for 30 days of coverage for all who need it. 

The Governor also released a multi-phased plan for how to “re-open” the state. If the data indicates it is safe to slowly ease some of the “Stay at Home” restrictions after May 8, the State can then begin to move forward with Phase 1.



  • Stay-at-home order remains in place, people can leave home for commercial activity 
  • Open retailers and services will need to implement social distancing, cleaning and other protocols
  • Gatherings remain limited to no more than 10 people
  • Parks can open subject to gathering limits
  • Face coverings are recommended in public
  • Restrictions remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living settings
  • Continued teleworking encouraged


PHASE 2 (at least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1):

  • Lift the stay-at-home order; strongly encourage vulnerable populations to continue staying at home
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses that can follow strict safety protocols and reduced capacity
  • Allow gathering at houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes


PHASE 3 (at least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2): 

  • Ease restrictions for vulnerable populations while encouraging social distancing
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, churches, and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes


During his press conference, Governor Cooper emphasized the importance of hitting benchmarks and milestones before moving onto the next phase. The Governor also noted that if infections spike or benchmarks trend downward as a result of moving to the next phase, a return to the previous phase would be necessary to protect the public health and avoid outbreaks of community transmission.