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Friday at 5, restaurants will again be open for seated customers; COVID-19 cases up in Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties

Friday at 5, restaurants will again be open for seated customers; COVID-19 cases up in Catawba, Burke and Caldwell counties

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North Carolina will lift its stay-at-home order and allow more businesses to open starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a press conference Wednesday.

Cooper said several types of businesses will be allowed to reopen as part of Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, including restaurants for dine-in customers, salons, barbershops, swimming pools and camps. The restrictions were put in place in March to stave off the initial impact of COVID-19.

These businesses will have to follow certain requirements. Most will have to limit their capacity to 50 percent and follow other guidelines related to cleaning, social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

Certain businesses will remain closed in the second phase, including bars, nightclubs, gyms, playgrounds and indoor entertainment venues.

The stay-at-home order will expire and be replaced by a Safer At Home recommendation.

“Safer At Home means just what it says: just because you can go more places doesn’t mean you always should,” Cooper said.

Phase 2 is expected to last until at least June 26.

Case data

Catawba County reported six new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number to 127.

The county measures lab-confirmed cases and that total does not necessarily reflect the prevalence of the disease since people who have or had the disease may not have been tested.

Fifty people who had the disease have recovered. Three people have died as a result of complications from the disease and five are currently hospitalized in Catawba County.

The county has received 1,802 negative test results.

Burke County reported 218 cases Wednesday, up seven from Tuesday.

Caldwell County had 190 cases, an increase of four from the day before.

The state reported more than 400 new confirmed cases Wednesday. The total grew from 19,700 cases on Monday to 20,122 cases Wednesday.

Eleven new deaths were reported for a total of 702 deaths linked to the virus. The number of people hospitalized is 554.

Testing levels also continued to rise. The state completed 277,603 tests by Wednesday, up from 265,008 the previous day.

Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.

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