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Cooper to lift outdoor mask mandate, increase gathering limits starting Friday

Duke intends to release new masking protocols next week

<p>Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina would move into Phase 3 of reopening Friday at 5 p.m.</p>

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina would move into Phase 3 of reopening Friday at 5 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he will lift the outdoor mask mandate and increase gathering limits on Friday.

The new rules will allow 100 to gather indoors and 200 to gather outdoors. Masks will still be required indoors, per Cooper’s announcement.

Cooper hopes to get two-thirds of adults in North Carolina vaccinated for COVID-19 with at least one dose. He intends to lift the mask mandate completely once that is achieved and trends remain stable.

This comes after Cooper announced April 21 that mandatory social distancing and capacity restrictions in North Carolina would be lifted by June 1, a goal he reiterated in his Wednesday announcement. 

According to Cooper, about half of adults in North Carolina are partially vaccinated and almost 40% are fully vaccinated. The state has had 1,765 new cases reported since yesterday and 965,536 confirmed cases in total as of today. At Duke, only one student and three faculty and staff at Duke tested positive for COVID-19 last week, the lowest number since August 2020.

Duke intends to issue updated masking protocols next week based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a Wednesday email from Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh.

The new CDC guidelines allow for those who have been fully vaccinated to participate in some activities without wearing masks, such as attending small outdoor gatherings, dining at outdoor restaurants with friends and exercising outdoors alone or with those in the household. The recommendations still encourage masks in crowded outdoor areas and most indoor settings.

Duke has maintained its policy of not permitting gatherings larger than 10 people throughout the academic year, even as North Carolina has increased its gathering limits.

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