North Carolina continues under a statewide shutdown order. On Thursday, April 23, Gov. Roy Cooper presented a general plan to reopen the economy during a news conference. For now, the status quo shutdown is in place. Carolina Journal’s Rick Henderson writes:

The governor extended his stay-at-home order, imposed March 27 to limit the spread of COVID-19, from April 29 until May 8. Then he will decide whether to start easing restrictions gradually based on criteria he and state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen spelled out at the news conference.

The people of North Carolina will likely have to wait longer for the rollout of this plan than their friends in neighboring states. Henderson writes:

Cooper and Cohen based the guidelines loosely around recommendations announced earlier this week by the Trump administration. But the timetables put North Carolina at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Those states either plan or have planned to relax some of their restrictions on commerce and mobility within a few days or weeks.

Cooper shared a three-phase plan at the conference. Henderson summarizes the plan:

Under Phase 1, the stay-at-home order would remain in effect, but parks would reopen and people could leave their homes to buy a broader array of items, mainly at retailers. Social gatherings still couldn’t exceed 10 people. This phase would last at least two or three weeks, or until COVID-19 trends leveled or improved.

Phase 2 would start no earlier than May 23 and perhaps wouldn’t begin until June. Under it, the stay-at-home order would go away (but with people at risk of getting infected urged to continue isolation), and restaurants and bars could allow limited table service. Playgrounds, houses of worship, and entertainment venues could open under tight occupancy limits. So could gyms, pools, and hair and nail salons. Social gatherings could get larger.

This phase would remain in effect for at least four to six weeks … possibly past Independence Day.

Phase 3 would further relax personal distancing requirements at venues open to the public. People at risk of getting sick would be expected to follow social distancing guidelines.

Read the full Carolina Journal piece here. Keep up-to-date with the news on coronavirus in North Carolina here.