Large outdoor event spaces will be allowed to reopen at limited capacity in October, Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. 

Phase “2.5” of North Carolina’s repeatedly stalled reopening plan is set to expire on October 2. Cooper said “continued stability” in the state’s COVID-19 metrics means it’s safe enough to allow large outdoor event venues—defined as venues with space for more than 10,000 attendees—to reopen 7% capacity starting October 2.

The order, announced via live stream, means that an outdoor venue like Walnut Creek Amphitheater could open to a crowd of 1,442. The space of these outdoor venues, Cooper says, should allow for ample social distancing. 

UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham announced in a press release today that Kenan Stadium will be one of the stadiums to reopen for sporting events in October. 

“We will continue analyzing our data and indicators as we determine how to move forward safely in other areas that may be included in the new order on October 2,” Cooper said in an accompanying press release. “In it, we hope to ease some other restrictions, while still keeping safety protocols like masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits in place.” 

Today’s statewide COVID-19 dashboard shows 195,549 lab-confirmed cases, 2,824,929 daily tests, and 905 current hospitalizations. Cooper says that these numbers reflect a continued statewide stabilizing of case counts. 

The governor also announced a $40 million relief program, the N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR), which can provide up to “$20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location.” 

Alongside the news about venues and MURR, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also announced the release of the SlowCovidNC, an app that will alert users of COVID-19 exposure. The app works for both iPhones and Androids, and is available for free in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

The app, using Bluetooth, will record the distance between different phones that have the app downloaded; if a user shares positive COVID-19 results, the app will alert users who have been in “close contact” with that person. The app is anonymous. 

“Downloading SlowCOVIDNC is a practical step each of us can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our state,” Cohen said in a DHHS news release Tuesday.

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