North Carolina will move “cautiously” to Phase 3 of reopening beginning on Friday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m., Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press briefing today. 

“We are cautiously encouraged about where we are in this pandemic,” Cooper said. “But I have to tell you that we see warning signs that the disease could spike again.” 

The Phase 3 executive order will remain in effect until Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. It comes as the number of new coronavirus cases has leveled in North Carolina after a spike in August, according to Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen.

Phase 3 will allow many entertainment venues to open at a limited capacity. 

Bars and nightclubs can operate outdoors with a 30% or 100 customer maximum capacity, depending on whichever is less. Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 can operate at 7% capacity, and outdoor amusement parks can operate at 30% capacity. Movie theaters and indoor music halls will also be allowed to open at 30% or 100 customer maximum capacity, depending on whichever is less. 

“I believe that North Carolina can do this safely,” Cooper said. “But so I’m clear, every gathering carries the risk of spreading this disease.”

Many previous guidelines will carry over into Phase 3, and Cooper emphasized that the at-risk population is still safer at home.

The North Carolina face mask mandate is still in effect, and mass gatherings will remain capped at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, according to Cooper. Despite this, gatherings in the town of Elon will still remain capped at 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. 

The 11 p.m. alcohol sale curfew will also be extended. 

As temperatures outside drop, Cohen urged North Carolinians to continue precautionary measures like wearing masks and social distancing. She also encouraged residents to get a flu shot and download SlowCOVIDNC, a contact tracing app that notifies users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We're going to need to double down on our work to slow the spread of the virus to keep us on the right track," Cohen said. "We are stable, but fragile."

As of today, Elon University remains in Level 3 - High Alert reporting 206 cumulative cases and 255 students in quarantine. Alamance County has reported 4,137 cumulative cases and 59 deaths. North Carolina has reported 210,632 cumulative cases and 3,532 deaths.