WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — COVID-related restrictions across the state will be greatly reduced Friday, giving businesses and their customers more freedom.
Governor Roy Cooper announced the new rules during a news conference on Tuesday. The 11:00 p.m. alcohol curfew for on-site consumption will be eliminated. Businesses like retail stores, salons, and museums will be allowed to increase capacity to 100 percent.
Restaurants, breweries, gyms, and amusement parks can increase to 75 percent capacity indoors and 100 percent outdoors. Bars, sports arenas, and performance venues can increase to 50 percent capacity. All businesses must be able to maintain six feet of social distancing.
“I think it’s great, I think it’s great for all the downtown businesses, the bars especially,” said John Bradley, managing partner at Rebellion in downtown Wilmington. I have a lot of friends who are bar owners, they’ve been hurting, this is going to help them a lot.”
However, not everyone plans to take immediate advantage of the loosened restrictions. Bradley says Rebellion has been successful operating under the current restrictions.
We’re going to basically continue with our status quo, it’s what we’re comfortable with right now,” Bradley said. “We’re going to do it for another week or two, let some of the excitement pan out, and then slowly move into it.”
Down the street at YoSake, general manager Kyra Tebo says the new capacity limits will allow them to provide some additional seating, but not much.
“Maybe we could add a chair or two possibly at our sushi bar, which is really exciting, because we haven’t seen sushi bar seating in about a year,” she said.
Tebo asks that as restaurants and bars get back to more normal hours and capacity limits, customers remember that it’s going to be a big adjustment for staff members.
“Think about the kitchen staff, they haven’t been used to being this busy or being here this late,” Tebo said. “Bartenders, they’re shutting down at 2:00 a.m. and going to bed at 4:00 a.m. so they haven’t had that schedule in a year.”
Tebo says YoSake will likely extend hours to midnight starting next weekend. Bradley says Rebellion has no plans to extend hours at this time.
Ceviche’s on Wrightsville Avenue also told WWAY they do not plan to increase their capacity just yet. We reached out to several other restaurants as well which did not respond to our requests for comment.