Gov. Cooper eases restrictions on bars, lifts Stay-At-Home orders for gyms, others

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Gov. Roy Cooper at COVID-19 briefing on Feb. 18, 2021. (Photo: UNC-TV)

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Governor Roy Cooper announced significant rollbacks of restrictions on businesses and other venues, as the rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and positive cases continue to drop and stabilize across the state.

“After alarmingly high numbers throughout the winter holidays, North Carolina’s trends have declined and stabilized,” Cooper said. “Hospitalizations have dropped to their lowest point since before Thanksgiving. The percent of tests returning positive continues to decline. This is encouraging.”

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Today’s Executive Order lifts the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 pm and 5 am. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from 9 pm to 11 pm. Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors as they adhere to new occupancy restrictions. Many businesses, venues, and arenas will have increased occupancy both indoors and outdoors.

Executive Order No. 195 has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity. Because indoor spaces have a higher risk of spread for COVID-19, indoor facilities in the 30%-occupancy category may not exceed two hundred fifty (250) people per indoor room or indoor space.

 30% Capacity Limit (may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces)

  • Bars
  • Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
  • Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
  • Indoor areas of Amusement Parks
  • Movie Theatres
  • Entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments)
  • Sports Arenas and Fields*
  • Venues*

Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250 person limit if they follow additional safety measures up to 15% capacity.

50% Capacity Limit 

  • Restaurants
  • Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
  • Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)
  • Pools
  • Museums and Aquariums
  • Retailers
  • Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
  • Salons, Personal Care, Tattoo Parlors

The changes take effect Friday and are set to expire later in March.

North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association President Zack Medford applauded the Governor on the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

“This is a huge, hard-fought win,” Medford said. “The lessening of these restrictions would never have been possible without the tireless efforts of NCBATA members and allies for the past 343 days. We look forward to continuing to build on this success with the Governor’s Office, and helping get our bar and taverns back on their feet after such a devastating year.”