Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order No. 138

Easing Restrictions on Travel and Business Operations

On May 5, 2020, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 138, which moves North Carolina into Phase I of the statewide reopening plan. This Order lifts certain restrictions on travel and business operations, and goes into effect on May 8, 2020 at 5:00 pm.


What Does this Order allow me to do? 

This Order allows people to leave their homes or places of residences in order to participate in allowed activities. 


What are Allowable Activities?

People may leave their residences: 

  • For reasons pertaining to health and safety;
    • i.e. emergency services, health care appointments, to purchase supplies and medication, or visit a veterinarian. 
  • To patronize businesses and workplaces that are open; 
  • To engage in outdoor activity while practicing social distancing;
  • To look for work;
  • To attend houses of worship;
  • To travel between residences and care for others in other households;
  • To volunteer;
  • To attend small outdoor get-togethers of ten people or less; and
  • To provide or receive government services. 
  • Note: People who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to still stay home and travel only for essential purposes. 


What will be open?

  • State parks and trails; and
  • Most retail businesses can operate, but they must do so under certain restrictions.


Will childcare centers open?

  • Centers may open provided they operate in full compliance with Executive Order 130 and all guidelines issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 


What restrictions do businesses have to follow in order to operate under this Order?

Businesses must: 

  • Limit customer occupancy to less than 50% of stated fire capacity;
  • Limit customer occupancy so that customers can stay six (6) feet apart, even if this requires reducing occupancy beneath the 50% limit stated above;
  • Direct customers to stay at least six (6) feet apart from one another and from workers, except at point of sale, if applicable;
  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at point of sale and in other high-traffic areas for customers, such as at deli counters and near high-volume products;
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas;
  • Provide, whenever available, hand sanitizer; 
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard health assessment questionnaire, before workers enter the workplace;
  • Immediately send symptomatic workers home;
  • Have a plan in place for immediately isolating workers from the workplace if symptoms develop; and
  • Post signage at the main entrance that reminds people to stay six (6) feet apart for social distancing, requests people who are or who have recently been symptomatic not to enter, and notifies customers of the Retail Business’s reduced capacity.


What remains closed?

  • Public playgrounds 
  • Restaurants – dine-in service
  • Personal Care and Grooming Businesses such as: 
    • Barber shops
    • Beauty salons
    • Hair salons
    • Nail salons
    • Tattoo parlors
    • Tanning salons
    • Massage therapists (exceptions for some medical massage therapy services)
  • Entertainment facilities that operate within confined (indoor or outdoor) spaces and do not offer a retail or dining component such as: 
    • Bowling alleys
    • Indoor exercise facilities (e.g. gyms, yoga studios, martial arts facilities, indoor trampoline and rock climbing facilities)
    • Health clubs, fitness centers and gyms
    • Indoor/Outdoor pools
    • Movie theaters
    • Skating rinks
    • Spas
    • Gaming and business establishments that allow gaming activities (e.g. video poker, gaming, sweepstakes, video games, arcade games, pinball machines)


What is a mass gathering?

  • An event or convening that brings together more than ten people at the same time in a single space, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, conference room, meeting hall, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space. 
  • Parades, fairs and festivals are also considered mass gatherings. 


Are mass gatherings allowed?



Is a funeral considered a mass gathering?

The Order makes an exception for funerals, and permits up to 50 people to congregate, with encouragement to practice social distancing as much as possible. 


Is a drive-in a mass gathering?

Drive-ins are not prohibited if all participants stay within their vehicles. 


Is a household where more than ten people reside considered a mass gathering?



Can I visit someone in a long-term care facility?

Visitors and non-essential health care personnel are not allowed inside long-term care facilities, with the exception of certain compassionate care situations, such as an end-of-life scenario.

Long term care facilities include all of the following:

  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Adult care homes
  • Family care homes
  • Mental health group homes
  • Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities


How long will this Order be in place?

The Order goes into effect Friday, May 8 at 5:00 pm and will remain in place through 5:00 pm on Friday, May 22, 2020.   


How will the Order be enforced?

The provisions of this Executive Order will be enforced by state and local law enforcement officers. Violation of this Order may be subject to prosecution pursuant to N.C.G.S. 166A-1 9.30(d) and is punishable by a Class 2 misdemeanor.