Good morning, Asheville. Phase One of Governor Cooper’s three phase plan to reopen the state begins today at 5 p.m., and if you’re anything like us, you likely have some questions about exactly what it entails. We’re here to break it down for you.
Under Phase One, the stay-at-home order remains in place, but allows folks more freedom to leave home than just essential activities (like medical appointments) or to access essential businesses (like grocery stores). It removes the distinction between essential + non-essential businesses and mandates that the spots that open can only be occupied at 50 percent capacity. These bizzes must also encourage social distancing, provide hand sanitizer to customers, and clean frequently. Businesses will also be required to screen workers for symptoms.
Restaurants will not be permitted to have in-house seating during Phase One, but can continue offering drive-thru, takeout + delivery options. All employees that can are still encouraged to work from home wherever possible.
Childcare facilities will be allowed to open for parents seeking work and those that work outside the home. These spots must perform frequent sanitation practices. Playgrounds and overnight camps are still closed, but summer day camps will be allowed to operate if they follow proper safety protocols.
Small gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed outdoors, and people must maintain social distancing and are encouraged to wear face masks. This also applies to church services, which will allow churches to hold services outdoors with no more than ten people present. Indoor services are still restricted.
Leisure travel in Buncombe County is what distinguishes Phase One here from the rest of the state. Leisure lodging reservations — including campgrounds, motels, hotels + AirBnB rentals — will only be permitted for those living in the 828 area code.
Cooper launched Phase One because the state has flattened the curve. If we continue to maintain key metrics, Phase Two will take effect two to three weeks after Phase One, or as soon as May 22. Phase Three is slated to follow in four to six weeks and will allow larger groups to gather again, as well as increase capacity at bars, restaurants, gyms, and other venues.
Reopening the state remains controversial. Those with more ambitious plans to reopen, like our neighbor Georgia, are under scrutiny to see if infection rates will spike. Gov. Cooper has notes that despite the lessened restrictions, people should continue to stay at home as much as possible.