GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolinians will soon be able to gather in larger groups and businesses poised to operate at a greater capacity. A new executive order from Governor Roy Cooper will roll back some COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday at 5 p.m.
Gov. Cooper said North Carolina's trends continue to move in the right direction and have made it possible to move forward toward reopening the state. Triad business owners, though still cautious, are thrilled by this and have started gearing up to safely reopen and in some cases expand their operations.
"A lot of people are doing a whole lot of disposables, capes, gloves just making sure that we're not passing anything," said Nicole Alford of Phenix Salon Suites.
Alford joins other salon and barbershop owners as well as museums, aquariums, and retail stores to open at 100 capacity starting Friday.
Governor Cooper's new executive order has now made a way for the state to start getting back to normal after the pandemic shuttered businesses for over a year.
Restaurants, breweries, gyms can also open but at 75% capacity indoors and 100% outdoors. Conference centers, bars, sports, and entertainment venues can open at 50% capacity indoors.
"I am excited, I really am. I'm very excited, but I don't think that we are going to go back 100% completely right off the bat," said Alford.
This easing of restrictions would also mean the return of some jobs. Managers at Kotis Properties which operates Red Cinemas and several Triad restaurants said they're planning to re-train current staff, re-engage old staff, and hire new ones.
"We also have some deep cleaning going on to make sure our facilities are ready in tiptop shape and making sure that the existing social distancing things are in the lobby," said Bart Ortiz of Kotis Properties
Increased vaccine distribution and progress with COVID-19 metrics are playing a key role, according to state officials. So far, more than 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in North Carolina.
"It's really encouraging and giving people that level of comfort that they have some defense against the potential virus, " Ortiz said.
The state is planning incentives to encourage vaccinations as plans get underway to vaccinate college students and other essential workers in Group 4 as well as advance to the general public in Group 5.
"I feel like we should still be taking precautions in regards to opening back up fully to be honest with you because a lot of people still haven't had the vaccine," Alford said.
Precautions like the statewide mask mandate are still in place and the required six feet social distancing may not allow all businesses to expand to the new limits. The updated pandemic guidance would remain in place until April 30.