North Carolina’s COVID-19 curfew will end Friday, Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday, as part of a series of restrictions being eased in response to a recent decrease in cases of the virus.

“We have reason for hope in North Carolina,” Cooper said during a Wednesday presser. “All of the metrics that we measure continue to stabilize.”

Starting Friday, the state’s 10 p.m. modified stay-at-home order will be lifted and alcohol sales will be allowed to continue until 11 p.m. Some businesses will be allowed to expand capacity, including certain indoor venues, bars, and movie theaters. 

The state’s mandatory mask order, however, stays in place.

Cases have been on the decline since reaching record highs in mid-January when the state was reporting more than 10,000 new cases each day with an 18 percent positive rate for testing. Now, the positivity rate has dropped to about 6 percent. 

“While we’re improving since our peak in January, we still have more work to do,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen noted.l “At the same time, we face a new challenge–those new COVID-19 variants are a wildcard.”

As of Wednesday, North Carolina has completed more than 10 million tests for the virus and has reported nearly 850,000 cases. There were 3,346 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday and 1,530 people remain hospitalized with the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 11,000 people have died. 

Although restrictions may be loosening, Cooper urged citizens to “remain cautious.” 

“People are losing their loved ones each day,” Cooper said. “We must keep up our guard.”

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