Stricter indoor gathering restriction in effect for North Carolina

State - Regional

PEMBROKE, N.C. (WBTW) — A new executive order that tightens the capacity on indoor gatherings is now in effect for North Carolina.

Governor Roy Cooper announced the executive order during a news conference earlier in the week. It lowers the capacity for indoor gatherings from 25 to 10. It also extends Phase 3 measures in the Tar Heel State through Dec. 4. There are many exceptions, including establishments which have their own capacities set such as restaurants, along with religious gatherings.

The move comes just a couple weeks before Thanksgiving and the governor says the move targets social events.

Meanwhile, Robeson County health officials say they’re seeing cases that stem from social gatherings on Halloween.

“I’ve had two nurses come to me in the last 30 minutes, they interviewed folks who attribute their positive COVID results to Halloween gatherings,” communicable disease nurse and supervisor at Robeson County Health Department Tracy Jones said Friday morning. “A lot of them, they’re telling us they were outside but they were not practicing social distancing and there were large numbers of people at these gatherings.”

She said social gatherings are the biggest source of COVID spread in the county at this point.

“We just have to be extremely careful,” Jones said. “I know it’s an inconvenience but if we don’t start following the guidelines unfortunately it could lead to more shutdowns.”

Jones said it’s safest to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving with only household members. If others must gather, she said doing so outdoors is safer and that masks and distancing should be observed,

Meanwhile, at UNCP, the semester is wrapping up. The final day of classes was Thursday, and the university offered students rapid COVID tests before they head home to see their families.

“It was really important for us to try to do everything we could to help protect our students and their families as they prepare to depart campus and return home for the winter break and for the holidays,” chief communications and marketing officer Jodi Phelps said.

The state health department is sending nearly 75,000 federally funded antigen tests to campuses across North Carolina.

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