North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday afternoon that pools may reopen at 50% capacity as the state enters Phase 2 of its plan to reopen businesses amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Phase 2 officially begins at 5PM Eastern Time on Friday.
On Tuesday, Cooper said that pools were on track to hit opening by Memorial Day Weekend, and that the state government was “contemplating allowing pools to open in Phase 2.” On Wednesday, his office made that official, in addition to announcing restrictions that include half-capacity for the time being.
Personal care businesses, including barber shops, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage therapists, are also being allowed to reopen at 50% capacity. Further, these business are to operate by appointment only, and that all employees and customers must wear face masks at all times.
Restaurants will also be able to open at 50% capacity with a mask requirement for all staff.
Among the businesses not included in Phase 2 are, among others, gyms, health clubs, and play grounds in spite of the allowance of pools. Bars and nightclubs must also remain closed.
Cooper had expressed hope that more businesses would be allowed to begin reopen but that recent data convinced them to “back off” any further easing.
The state has exempted churches from any restrictions, meaning that those congregations can gather at their own risk, though officials have discouraged them from doing so. In the early stages of the pandemic, large church gatherings were a source of rapid spread of the virus.
The latest order is in effect until June 26, at which time it could be extended, or Phase 3, with more easing of restrictions, could continue.
Several USA Swimming teams in North Carolina have resumed practice, in spite of the orders allowing pools to reopen not going into effect until Friday.
North Carolina has recorded over 20,000 cases of coronavirus infection so far, with 721 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The entry into Phase 2 in the reopening plan comes amid a rapid rise in the number of new cases in the state. The last week has seen the highest number of recorded new cases so far during the pandemic in North Carolina of any 7 day period so far.
UPDATED LIST OF POOL REOPENINGS
- Alabama – 50% capacity (May 11)
- Alaska – 50% capacity
- Arizona – 50% capacity (May 15)
- Arkansas – 50% capacity (May 22)
- California – No counties have been cleared for reopening pools by the state, though several teams have resumed practice anyway.
- Delaware – Community Pools at 20% capacity, no swim lessons or team practices (May 22)
- Florida – some localities have allowed pools to begin to reopen under a patchwork of restrictions
- Indiana – Adhering to Social Distancing Guidelines (May 24)
- Georgia – 10 or fewer people, or 6 feet of space per person (May 14)
- Kentucky – Pools designated for training or exercise can reopen (June 1)
- Louisiana– Lap Swimming can resume at 25% capacity
- Massachussetts – Outdoor pools Can Reopen in Phase 2 (as early as June 8), Indoor pools can reopen in Phase 3 (as early as late June)
- Mississippi – six feet apart
- North Carolina – 50% capacity (May 22)
- Ohio – CDC Guidelines (May 26)
- South Carolina – Smaller of 20%/5 people per 1000 square feet (May 18)
- Texas – 25% capacity
- Virginia – Outdoor lap Swimming only, 1-per-lane (May 15)
- Wyoming – 1 person per lane