Outer Banks counties to reopen to visitors starting May 16

A file image shows a wild horse on an Outer Banks dune. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is expected to open to visitors by Memorial Day Weekend following multiple restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he is modifying the state's stay-at-home order as part of the transition to Phase One of reopening. 

Officials said entry for visitors will begin May 16 at 12:01 a.m. for the following communities: Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo; Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland; the Currituck County Outer Banks; and Ocracoke Island.

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Before traveling to the Outer Banks, visitors are being encouraged to contact their accommodations provider to confirm their reservation and arrival plans. 

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North Carolina will still enforce the following guidelines to protect residents and visitors against COVID-19:

- Social distancing guidelines are still in place.

- Gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.

- Getting food from restaurants continues to be on a take-out or delivery basis.

- Businesses, including grocery stores, have limits on the number of people allowed in the store at any given time based on square footage.

- Personal care and grooming businesses and entertainment businesses without retail or dining are not open yet based on state regulations which are not determined or controlled by our local government. 

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Individuals are also being strongly encouraged to wear a face mask or cloth covering in public settings where social distancing is harder to maintain.