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Legal Alert

North Carolina Businesses Prepare To Enter First Phase Of Reopening Plan


North Carolina’s Stay at Home order expires at 5:00 p.m. on May 8, paving the way for North Carolinians to begin Phase 1 of its Three-Phase Reopening Plan. This phase begins to relax business restrictions, but will require retail businesses to implement protective measures and safeguards, including daily screening through employee questionnaires, limiting capacity, and facilitating social distancing. Phase 1 also continues restrictions imposed on certain businesses while provided recommendations for all businesses – so you should familiarize yourself with the plan before you develop your own reopening strategy.

Requirements For Reopening Retail Businesses

Many retail businesses may open on Friday, May 8 at 5:00 p.m. if the business implements certain safeguards, including:

Recommendations For Reopening Retail Businesses

Phase 1 also includes recommendations for retail business, including that the business:

High-volume business, like grocery stories and pharmacies, are encouraged to place shields at cash registers, clearly mark entrances and exits, and provide assistance with routing through store aisles.

Recommendations For All Businesses

Phase 1 encourages all businesses to:

Continued Restrictions On Certain Business Sectors

Other business must continue restricted operations:

Prohibition On Reopening Of Certain Businesses

Certain businesses are still not yet permitted to open during Phase 1. They include personal care and grooming businesses, such as barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, and massage therapists (absent a medical massage referral); and entertainment facilities without retail or dining components, including bowling alleys, gyms, pools, performance venues, and movie theaters, among others.

Do Penalties Exist For Non-Compliance?

Like the Stay-at-Home Order, law enforcement agencies will enforce North Carolina’s phased re-opening. Failure to comply could result in prosecution and is punishable as a class 2 misdemeanor.

What Does This Mean For Employers?

Businesses eager to reopen should ensure compliance with any applicable Phase requirement For example, retailers allowed to open during Phase 1 must implement and follow mark six-foot spacings near cash registers, screen employees daily using a questionnaire, limit capacity, post signs notifying customers of the limited capacity, and use enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols. 

If the trends continue to improve during Phase 1, we can expect to begin Phase 2 in about two to three weeks.

As you begin the process of reopening, you should familiarize yourself with our alert: 5 Steps To Reopen Your Workplace, According To CDC’s Latest Guidance. You should also keep handy our 4-Step Plan For Handling Confirmed COVID-19 Cases When Your Business Reopens in the event you learn of a positive case at your workplace. For a more thorough analysis of the many issues you may encounter from a labor and employment perspective, we recommend you review our FP BEYOND THE CURVE: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers and our FP Resource Center For Employers.


We will continue to monitor this rapidly developing situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ alert system to gather the most up-to-date information. For further information or advice on how to satisfy notice requirements as an employer, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any attorney in our Charlotte office, or any member of our Post Pandemic Strategy Group Roster. You can also review our FP BEYOND THE CURVE: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Business FAQs For Employers and our FP Resource Center for Employers.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

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