Gov. Cooper: Outdoor venues in NC can open at 7% capacity next week

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Gov. Cooper at press conference on Sept. 22, 2020. (Photo: Pool)

NORTH CAROLINA (WWAY) — In a news conference Tuesday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that outdoor venues, including stadiums, would be able to open to 7% capacity starting next week.

The new order will go into effect next Friday, Oct. 2. Large entertainment venues are those that can seat over 10,000.

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“We will continue analyzing our data and indicators as we determine how to move forward safely in other areas that may be included in the new order on October 2nd. In it, we hope to ease some other restrictions, while still keeping safety protocols like masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits in place,” Gov. Cooper said.

Cooper’s current executive order, which instituted Phase 2.5 of his plan to reopen the state, is set to expire next Friday, October 2. Under phase 2.5, gyms, bowling alleys, playgrounds and museums were allowed to open to the public with restrictions. More than two weeks after the state lifted those restrictions, the state has not seen an uptick in cases, emergency room visits for COVID-like symptoms, or the percentage of positive tests.

”With more things open and people moving around more, we need everyone to stay vigilant about wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart, and washing their hands often,” Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., said. “Our progress is fragile and will take our continued hard to work to protect it.”

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next week to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires October 2 at 5 pm.

Also, the governor announced more funding for small businesses. Some North Carolina small businesses that have experienced extraordinary disruption to their operations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may benefit from a $40 million relief program to help offset fixed costs like rent, mortgage interests and utility bills.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy – powering our local communities and giving back in so many ways. They deserve our support, and this new initiative can help them weather this tough time,” said Governor Cooper.

The N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR), administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations.

Applicants can apply for up to four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses.  The help offers relief for some of the fixed costs a business cannot easily control on its own.  Applications to the program should open next week and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must certify that they were closed during the period April 1 through July 31, 2020; they expect to be able to operate after the COVID crisis has passed; and they have not been reimbursed by any other federal source for the expenses for which they seek reimbursement through this program.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Amusement parks
  • Banquet Halls (with catering staff)
  • Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges
  • Bingo parlors
  • Bowling alleys/centers
  • Dance halls
  • Indoor fitness and recreation centers
  • Motion picture/movie theaters (except drive-ins)
  • Museums

The Department of Commerce will begin accepting applications soon.

Business leaders can learn about the MURR program by registering for one of the free educational webinars offered by the Department of Commerce over the next two weeks.

For the webinar schedule and additional information on the program, visit here.