Are we getting closer to a return to normal?

Are we getting closer to a return to normal?
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As mask policies loosen, vaccines are readily available, more folks are going back to work and kids are back in school, it seems “normal” is near.

Why it matters: It feels like we’re turning a corner in the pandemic. Many of us are starting to meet with friends again and reschedule the trips 2020 took away.

Plus, Gov. Cooper says once two-thirds of North Carolina adults are at least partially vaccinated, he’ll lift the indoor mask mandate in addition to other restrictions. So far, only the outdoor mask mandate has been lifted.

  • Right now 50% of North Carolinians over 18 are at least partially vaccinated.
  • In Mecklenburg County, 31% of residents are at least partially vaccinated. [Go deeper]

Yes, but: Tread lightly. COVID metrics have been fairly stable, but the percentage of positive cases has risen over the last month. That’s partially because of fewer people getting tested for COVID, but also a sign that the virus is still spreading.

More recently, younger people are being hospitalized with COVID, and huge outbreaks around the country and world remind us of how quickly the virus can start spreading even after metrics drop.

Here’s a status check on what’s opening around the city.

Note: Masks (indoors) and six feet social distancing are still required in public spaces.

Schools: Starting today, all CMS students will attend in-person classes five days a week, not including those in full remote academy, but this is still the closest to normal the district has operated in over a year.

  • Union County Public Schools are also operating on full five-day schedules for K-12 students not enrolled in the virtual academy.
  • Cabarrus County Schools are on a four-day in-person schedule, with options for students to learn remotely through Plan C.

Restaurants are able to operate at 75% capacity both indoors and outdoors. This also applies to amusement parks, gyms, wineries, breweries and pools.

While the hospitality industry as a whole is still recovering from lost revenue last year, more businesses are reopening. But they’re facing a new challenge: hiring. A lot of hospitality workers haven’t returned to the industry after losing jobs last year. [Go deeper]

Bars are able to operate at 50% capacity both indoors and outdoors, and the 11 p.m. curfew has been lifted.

Bar owners are facing some of the same labor challenges as restaurant owners.

Large stadiums and arenas are able to operate at 50% capacity both indoors and outdoors. Charlotte’s in-season local teams have welcomed fans back into the stands. And, live music is picking back up as well.

Mass gathering restrictions were recently loosened (100 people indoors, 200 outdoors), meaning parties are resuming, as are weddings. This wedding season is expected to be one of the busiest in years, industry experts say. [Go deeper]

Theaters: Movie theaters and other entertainment venues are also subject to 50% capacity restrictions. (However, movie theaters can operate at 75% capacity outdoors.)

  • This week Neighborhood Theatre announced it’s reopening on June 17.
  • As a way to drum up business, some local movie theaters are renting out screens for private events.
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