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Brett Jensen | @Brett_Jensen

Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that North Carolina will begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions further due to improving case trends. The latest move will allow some businesses and restaurants to open at full capacity, effective at 5 p.m. on Friday (3/26).

However, all establishments must adhere to the state’s mask mandate and CDC’s social distancing requirements, which could prohibit some from opening fully.

“This pandemic is not over yet,” said Gov. Cooper. “We’re only able to keep the virus in check while we ease restrictions if people act responsibly and follow safety protocols.”

According to the Governor’s executive order, retail businesses and shops, museums, and aquariums as well as barbers, salons, and personal care businesses are allowed to operate at 100%. The limits for mass gatherings will double to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

As for restaurants, breweries and wineries, amusement parks, gyms and pools, they can operate at 75% indoors and 100% outdoors. Additionally, the restriction on the 11 p.m. alcohol curfew will be lifted.

Also, bars, sporting arenas, conference centers, and live performance concert venues can increase to 50% capacity.

“For us to truly turn the corner and leave this pandemic behind, we have to stay strong to the very end,” said Cooper. “We have to continue keeping ourselves and each other safe. That way we’ll be able to move forward once and for all into a stronger and healthier future.”

With COVID-19 cases and death continuing to decline across North Carolina, the easing of restrictions is a welcome sign of things to come with summer around the corner. Despite that factor, Cooper still urges caution for the months ahead and encourages everyone to continue following safety measures.

On Tuesday, the Tar Heel State recorded the least amount of cases and deaths since November of last year.

For the latest on Gov. Cooper’s restrictions, follow Brett Jensen on Twitter @Brett_Jensen