In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper said he anticipates lifting all mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1 if vaccination rates hold. Next week, he plans to announce executive orders outlining safety restrictions for the month of May. 

“If we work together to get everyone vaccinated and keep metrics in a good place, we can brig back summer to North Carolina,” Cooper said. “We are continuing to make progress, turning the corner on this pandemic. Our COVID-19 trends remain relatively stable although we have seen slight increases over the past couple weeks. The fact that our numbers aren’t yet declining reminds us how important it us to stay vigilant in our fight against this virus.” 

Currently, new COVID-19 numbers remain low, but the percent of positive tests rate has inched up over health officials’ goal of five percent in recent weeks. Almost half of the state’s adults age 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 70 percent of adults age 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

“With at least two thirds of adults vaccinated, our public health experts believe we will have enough protection across our communities to be able to live more safely with this virus and to begin to put the pandemic behind us,” Cooper said. 

N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen announced a new initiative that the state is rolling out in order to hit the June 1 benchmark of having two thirds of the adult population partially vaccinated. The Bringing Summer Back Get Out the Vaccine campaign will run for two weeks in May and two weeks in June, during which organizations across the state “will rally together to promote vaccination,” Cohen said. Groups can get involved by organizing volunteer days, handing out resources, and helping schedule appointments.

Masks will still be important, Cohen emphasized, and there will be safety protocols in place in venues that bring large numbers of people together indoors. There will also be measures in place to protect children who have not  yet been vaccinated, in summer camps and summer schools, for instance.

“If we can get to at least two thirds of adults vaccinated, we can back to the summer activities we all love, like backyard gatherings with family and friends, public fireworks, outdoor festivals, or parades, all without wearing masks outside,” Cohen said. 

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