On Tuesday Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina would remain in Phase Two of reopening until at least August 7. His decision was prompted by worsening or stagnating benchmarks indicating the state of the COVID-19 epidemic in North Carolina.
On Thursday NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an emergency order requiring the wearing of face masks in all court facilities. The order spells out some exceptions for health and other reasons. Beasley also included a directive requiring senior resident superior court judges to develop plans for resuming jury trials in their districts.
On Tuesday the NC Supreme Court issued a stay of a preliminary injunction that a Guilford County Superior Court judge had issued the previous week allowing for bowling alleys to reopen. The stay means that bowling alleys will not be allowed to reopen for now, granting the request of Governor Cooper’s attorneys.
The State Board of Elections issued an emergency order detailing plans for the November elections given the COVID-19 pandemic. The order mandates mask-wearing by election officials, the provision of masks for voters who need them, longer early voting hours on two October weekends, and at least one early voting site per 20,000 voters, which would mean that some counties will need to open more early voting sites than they had originally planned. Democracy North Carolina, a lead plaintiff in a suit against the State Board of Elections that demands strong measures to guarantee a fair and safe election during the pandemic, issued a statement describing the order as “fall[ing] far short of what is necessary.”
On Tuesday Governor Cooper announced his fall plan for the North Carolina Public School system. The plan corresponds most closely to the Plan B option Cooper had described earlier in the year as one of three possible paths forward. Plan B has a “moderate social distancing” requirement for in-person activities that will result in most students’ attending school remotely at least part of the time. Cooper gave individual school districts the option to offer online-only instruction, and he cautioned that all NC schools could shift to remote instruction if there is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. The plan also requires daily temperature checks and mask-wearing for in-person activity, and the state is planning to provide 5 reusable face masks to every student, teacher, and school staff member.