North Carolina Moves to Safer at Home Phase 2

On May 20, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that North Carolina will move into Safer at Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22, at 5 p.m. Read Executive Order No. 141.

Phase 2 lifts the Stay at Home order moving into a Safer at Home recommendation, especially for people at high risk for serious illness. Teleworking is also urged when possible.

Mass gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances. These limits apply to event venues, conference centers, stadiums and sports arenas, amphitheaters and groups at parks or beaches.

Some businesses will remain closed in Phase 2 including: bars, night clubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, and bowling alleys.

Certain businesses will be open at limited capacity with other requirements and recommendations including: restaurants at 50% dine-in capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements; personal care businesses, including salons and barbers, at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements; pools at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. Under Phase 2, employees of personal care businesses are required to wear face coverings.

Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps will be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements. Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.

Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.

The Safer at Home Phase 2 runs through at least Friday, June 26. Residents with questions about the North Carolina plan can call 2-1-1 or review the Phase 2 FAQ document.

Temporary Outside Dining Registration

The City of Charlotte has developed Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines to assist restaurant businesses during the State of North Carolina Phase 2 - easing of restrictions. The guidelines allow for restaurants to utilize parking spaces and extra sidewalk/street space for temporary outdoor dining conversion.

Restaurants with dedicated parking may convert up to 25% of parking spaces to temporary outdoor dining. This could allow for more dining capacity while complying with the City of Charlotte Zoning Ordinance and Governor Cooper's phase 2 requirements. There is no permit fee to enter the program. This program will be available for 90 days starting May 22, 2020, or until the full lifting of Governor Roy Cooper's phased reopening, whichever is sooner. Restaurants are required to register temporary outdoor dining with the City of Charlotte and comply with the requirements outlined in the Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines.

Register for Temporary Outdoor Dining

Temporary outdoor dining must comply with the City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance, and not be in use during the hours of 11 p.m. through 8 a.m. All temporary dining is required to be inspected by the Fire marshal. Restaurants may contact the Fire Marshal to schedule an inspection at 704.336.8374.

Restaurants will also be able to expand sidewalk dining during this period without a permit fee as long as certain pedestrian safety measures and ordinance standards are met. In the coming days, a Streateries Pilot Program toolkit will be available for restaurants to utilize on-street parking spaces and excess pavement for outdoor dining. Restaurant owners with questions about the Streateries Pilot program can email

Multilingual Resources

The Stay at Home order has not been lifted.

All North Carolina residents should continue to stay at home except for the purposes outlined in the order.

Phase 1 Guidelines

Anyone who is feeling sick should stay home and leave the house only to seek health care or for some other necessary reason. Phase 1 differs from the current Stay at Home Order in the following ways:

  • It eliminates the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses.

  • Allows most retailers (with exceptions) that can comply with specific requirements to open at 50 percent capacity.

  • Allows people to leave home for non-essential goods or services.

  • Encourages state parks and trails that are closed to open.

  • Specifically allows people to gather outdoors while following social distancing guidelines with up to ten people.

  • Opens child care to working families.

  • Encourages North Carolinians to wear cloth face coverings when outside the home in order to protect others.

The following does not change in Phase 1 from the Stay at Home Order:

  • A Stay at Home order remains in place.

  • Mass gatherings are generally limited to no more than ten people.

  • Teleworking is encouraged.

  • Social distancing, hand hygiene and other methods to slow the spread of COVID-19 should be practiced, including staying at least six feet apart.

  • Restaurants and bars remain closed for dine-in service.

  • Personal care and grooming businesses, including barber shops, beauty, nail, and tanning salons and tattoo parlors, remain closed.

  • Entertainment facilities, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and performance venues, remain closed.

  • Fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms remain closed.

  • People may leave their homes to obtain medical services, goods and services, engage in outdoor exercise, take care of others or volunteer.

  • Playgrounds remain closed.

  • Open retail businesses must meet certain requirements to ensure the safety of their employees and customers.

  • Visitation continues to be banned at long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations.

Residents may leave their homes for the following activities during Phase 1:

  • Work at any business, nonprofit, government or other organization that is not closed by an Executive Order, or seek employment.

  • Take care of health and safety needs, including emergency medical services, obtaining medical supplies and medication, or visit a health care professional or veterinarian.

  • Receive goods, services or supplies from any business or operation that is not closed by an Executive Order.

  • Engage in outdoor activities including walking, hiking, running, golfing, hunting, or fishing.

  • Take care of others, including assisting a family member, friend or pet, or attend weddings or funerals.

  • Worship or exercise First Amendment rights outdoors while following social distancing guidelines.

  • Travel between places of residence, including child custody or visitation arrangements.

  • Volunteer with organizations that provide charitable and social services.

  • Gather at other people’s homes with no more than ten people outdoors while following social distancing guidelines.

  • Provide or receive government services.

Restaurants will remain closed for dine-in meals. Take-out, drive-through and delivery services continue to be allowed. Shopping malls are open to the public, however, all congregation areas including food courts will remain closed. Shoppers are limited to going into retail locations only. All retail businesses must follow these requirements:

  • Direct customers and staff to stay at least six feet apart except at point-of-sale if applicable.

  • Limit occupancy to not more than 50 percent of stated fire capacity and ensure that social distancing of six feet apart if possible.

  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines at point-of-sale and in other high-traffic customer areas.

  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant of COVID-19.

  • Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer stations and ensure soap and hand drying materials are available at sinks.

  • Conduct daily symptom screening of employees before entering the workplace and immediately send symptomatic workers home.

  • Have a plan in place to immediately isolate an employee from work if symptoms develop.

  • Post signage at the main entrances to remind people about social distancing guidelines; request that people who are or have been recently symptomatic not to enter; and notify customers of the reduced store capacity.

  • Retail businesses are also strongly encouraged to:

    • Direct workers to stay at least six feet apart from one another and from customers, to the greatest extent possible.

    • Provide designated times for seniors and other high-risk populations to access services.

    • Develop and use systems that allow for online, email, or telephone ordering; no-contact curbside, drive-through pickup or home delivery; and contact-free checkout.

  • High-volume retail businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are strongly encouraged to:

    • Install acrylic or plastic shields at cash registers.

    • Clearly mark designated entry and exit points.

    • Help with routing through aisles in the store.

The Mecklenburg County Stay at Home Call Center will close on Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m. Residents with questions about the North Carolina plan can call 2-1-1 or review the full Phase 1 FAQ document and the Phase 1 comparison chart.

Frequently Asked Questions

It means that movement is restricted for all residents of Mecklenburg County to stay at their place of residence except that they may leave to provide or receive essential services or engage in essential activities and work for essential businesses and government services.

It restricts travel upon public streets, alleys, or roadways or other property except by those in need of medical assistance, food or other commodity or service necessary to sustain the well-being of themselves or their families or some member thereof.

​To ensure the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extend feasible, while enabling essential services to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the maximum extent possible.

​This Proclamation supersedes the restrictions outlined the Public Health Order to Restrict Mass Gatherings, which prohibited mass gatherings of 50 people or more.


  • Go to the grocery, convenience or warehouse store

  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities

  • Visiting a health care professional for medical services that cannot be provided virtually (call first)

  • Go to a restaurant for take-out, delivery or drive-thru

  • Care for or support a friend or family member

  • Take a walk, ride your bike, hike, jog and be in nature for exercise – just keep at least six feet between you and others

  • Walk your pets and take them to veterinarian if necessary

  • Help someone to get necessary supplies

  • Receive deliveries from any business which delivers


  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order

  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need

  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out

  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites

  • Travel except for essential travel and activities

Stay at home is a stricter form of social distancing. Stay at home means:

  • Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others)

  • Only go out for essential services

  • Stay 6 feet or more away from others

  • Don't gather in groups

The order is valid through April 29, 2020 but will be regularly reviewed and evaluated and can be revised, amended, or extended based on recommendations from Mecklenburg County Public Health Director and/or Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management.

Activities and businesses/travel that are considered essential.

  • For health and safety

  • To get necessary supplies and services

  • For outdoor activities (walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, using greenways)

  • For work for essential businesses/operations

  • To take care of others

  • Healthcare, public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders

  • Food, beverages, and agriculture (manufacturing, production, processing, cultivation including farming, livestock, fishing, baking, distribution of animals and good for consumption, providing food, shelter, and other necessities for animals)

  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine

  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services (businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations including food banks, when providing food and shelter, social services, and other necessities for life for economically disadvantaged or needy individuals, individuals who need assistance, and people with disabilities).

  • Energy

  • Water and wastewater

  • Transportation and logistics

  • Public works

  • Communication and information technology

  • Media

  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation (gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities and bicycle shops and related facilities)

  • Financial institutions (banks, currency exchange, consumer lenders, including but not limited, to payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and future exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products)

  • Hardware and supply stores

  • Critical trades (building and construction – plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, essential activities, and essential businesses)

  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services (post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels)

  • Laundry services

  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises (in-house delivery, third-party deliver, drive-through, curbside pick-up, and carry-out)

  • Supplies to work from home

  • Supplies for essential businesses and operations (see #14 in the order for details)

  • Transportation (airlines, taxis, public transportation, vehicle rental, logistics)

  • Home-based care and services (home-based care for adults, seniors, children, people with disabilities)

  • Residential facilities and shelters

  • Professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, restricted to appraisal and title services)

  • Childcare centers (for specific employees – first responders, healthcare workers, public health, etc)

  • Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain (see #20 for details)

  • Hotels and motels

  • Funeral services

  • Other community-based government operations and essential functions including human services

  • Other community-based human service operations

  • Critical manufacturing

  • Hazardous materials

​If you work in Mecklenburg County, then your business/employer must comply with this order. You are allowed to travel through Mecklenburg County and conduct essential activities within Mecklenburg County and to return home.

The minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the businesses' inventory, preserve the condition of the business's physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, or for related functions.

The minimum necessary activities to facilitate the employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential governmental functions, essential businesses and operations, or minimum basic operations.

  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons

  • Travel to or from education institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and other related services

  • Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction

  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement

  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the County. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the County remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel

​You are allowed to travel for purposes of essential business and essential activities

​Yes – but maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from all others.

Required measures include:

  • Designate 6 foot distances

  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products

  • Separate operating hours for vulnerable populations

  • Online and remote access

Enforcement Activities

CMPD is continuing to enforce the order through education, dialogue, and seeking voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses. If voluntary cooperation is not achieved CMPD is equipped to enforce these restrictions through citations or misdemeanor charges.

Any person violating any prohibition or restriction imposed by this order shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor in accordance with G.S. 14-288.20A.

​Call 3-1-1 or visit the City of Charlotte's website – see the COVID-19 updates page

​No – homeless are exempt from this restriction but are urged to find shelter.

Non-essential business and travel

Non-essential business and operations must cease – all businesses and operations in the County, except Essential Businesses and Operations are to cease all activities within the County except minimum basic operations. Businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).

All places of public amusement where people may gather, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children's play centers, playgrounds, recreation centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs shall be closed to the public.

​Owners, administrators, operators, staff, contractors, and volunteers of nursing homes, long term care and assisted living facilities are prohibited from allowing a person to enter the facility and visit a resident unless each of the following criteria are met: (1) the visitor is an adult; (2) the resident has not already had a visitor that day; and (3) the visit takes place in the resident's room. This prohibition does not apply to end of life situations.