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How soon will the streets of Statesville fill again? 

Restaurants, hair salons, barbers and other businesses can begin operating at 50% capacity late Friday.

North Carolina will enter the opening stage of Phase 2 of its reopening at 5 p.m. on Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re shifting to a safer-at-home Phase 2,” Cooper said. “It’s going to be done in a safe way.”

Gyms, bars and entertainment venues will not open in Phase 2. It’s the second stage of the return from a stay-at-home order issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gatherings must be with 10 people or less indoors and 25 people or less outdoors.

“We need to take a more modest step than we originally planned,” said Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services secretary.

Kelli Simko, owner of 220 Cafe in downtown Statesville, said that they renovated and painted while the stay-at-home order was in place.

She said that they only brought in enough chairs and tables to meet the capacity requirements set forth by Cooper, and that staff will wear masks and gloves at all times.

No condiments will be on tables, and menus will be thrown away after each customer uses them. Hand sanitizer will also be readily available.

Walkways will have 6-foot markers for customers to follow and outside seating will be encouraged, Simko said.

“We’re doing what we can to follow the rules,” Simko said.

Gloria Hager, owner of GG’s Art Frames Gifts in downtown Statesville, said her store has been open since the beginning of Phase I.

She said that staff wear masks when customers are in the store. She also said that there is hand sanitizer available and that there are 6-foot social distance markers at the cash register.

Hager said that the store has not seen much business and that she suspected people weren’t completely comfortable going out yet.

Therefore, she said, they had not had problems with a lack of social distance in their store.

“Certainly not a problem right now,” Hager said.

Jason Colt, one of the owners of Twisted Oak and Broad Street Burger, said that all staff will wear masks and operate at 50% capacity.

He also said that tables, door knobs and all other touched surfaces will be sanitized regularly. There will be hand sanitizer at the entrance of each restaurant.

He also said that the restaurants will be using temporal scanners to check the temperatures of all employees before they come in for their shift.

“We are vigilant about our staff not bringing anything outside in,” Colt said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure the customer is 1,000% comfortable eating at our establishment.”

Colt encouraged customers who are sick or showing symptoms not to come into the restaurant. He said that delivery and curbside serving are still available to these customers.

Colt criticized the governor on his reopening strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We could have had this information two weeks ago,” Colt said. “It’s shortsighted. I don’t agree with him on this particular issue.”

Cohen said that North Carolina was meeting all but one of the trajectories to enter Phase 2.

She said that the state is stable on hospitalizations, has a positive trajectory of COVID-like symptoms, decreasing in the percent of positive tests out of all tests, and increasing the raw total of tests.

The only requirement not met is the trajectory of total COVID-19 cases in the state, but Cohen said that this was expected due to the increased testing.

Cooper and Cohen recommended that residents wear masks when going out in public.

“Face coverings are more about protecting other people,” Cooper said. “Wearing one means you actually care about other people’s health.”

Cooper also encouraged caution when going out in public in general. “Though you can go to more places doesn’t mean you always should,” Cooper said.

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