Gov. Roy Cooper is lifting the stay-at-home order on Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m. and implementing Phase 2 of the reopening process.

Lifting the stay-at-home order doesn’t mean much since under Phase 1 people were allowed to leave their homes for nonessential purposes.

But one huge difference in Phase 2 is in Section 4 of the order, which states, “Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from all the requirements of this Executive Order.”

One of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment is “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” So not only has Cooper finally recognized the people’s right to practice their religion, the right of the people to gather and protest against these executive orders has finally been recognized.

Phase 2 allows restaurants, but not bars, to reopen under some stringent guidelines. The major restriction and the one that reportedly will result in many restaurants deciding not to open is that restaurants can only operate at 50 percent of their stated fire capacity, and only at 50 percent if it is possible to arrange all the tables so that the customers at one table are at least six feet from customers at another table.

The Greensboro City Council on Tuesday, May 19 discussed allowing restaurants greater flexibility in outdoor dining, so that restaurants could make up for some of the seating they were losing inside. But Cooper’s executive order 141 that establishes the Phase 2 criteria states, “Limit customers in indoor and outdoor seating areas to Emergency Maximum Occupancy” and that is defined as “fifty percent (50%) of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than 12 customers for every one thousand (1000) square feet of the location’s total square footage.”

Retail establishments are still limited to 50 percent of their stated fire capacity, plus the restrictions on spacing and sanitation.

Barbershops, hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors may open at 50 percent capacity and workers are required to wear facemasks within six feet of another person.

Indoor and outdoor pools may open again, limited to 50 percent capacity.

Childcare facilities may open to serve all children.

Day camps and overnight camps may open with some restrictions.

Entertainment, fitness facilities and playgrounds remain closed.