Governor Roy Cooper announced significant reductions in restrictions at businesses and elsewhere on Wednesday, as rates of hospitalizations, deaths and positive cases from COVID19 continue to fall and stabilize across the state.
“After alarmingly high numbers during the winter break, North Carolina trends have slowed and stabilized,” Cooper said. “Hospitalizations have fallen to their lowest point since before Thanksgiving. The percentage of tests that test positive continues to decline. This is encouraging.”
Specifically, Cooper officially lifted his modified Stay-At-Home by closing non-essential businesses such as gyms, restaurants and retail stores, at 10 p.m. at night. That order, signed in the wake of the Thanksgiving and Christmas surge, also imposed a 9 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales.
Although nonessential businesses may stay open late, alcohol sales will still be subject to a curfew, but this time two hours later at 11pm.
The changes will take effect on Friday and expire at the end of March.
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The radical changes also extend to bars and establishments where food sales represent less than 30% of sales. For the first time since March 2020, bars will be allowed to open at 30% capacity with a limit of 250 people.
Gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers, swimming pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries, and wineries may open at 50% capacity with health and safety protocols.
READ MORE: Cooper’s Complete Executive Order (.pdf)
Some companies that were limited to operating outdoors at 30% of their capacity will still have that percentage, but will no longer have a 100-person limit. That includes sports fields and arenas, stadiums, open-air bars, outdoor amusement parks and other outdoor businesses.
The new order will also allow some indoor businesses to open at 30% capacity with a limit of 250 people. These businesses include bars and taverns, indoor amusement parks, movie theaters, indoor sports stadiums, and others.
30% capacity limit (cannot exceed 250 people indoors)
- Spaces for meetings, receptions and conferences
- Lounges (including tobacco) and nightclubs
- Indoor areas of amusement parks
- Entertainment facilities (for example, bingo halls, gaming establishments)
- Sports fields and fields
Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be exempt from the 250-person limit by following additional security measures up to 15% of their capacity.
50% capacity limit
- Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
- Fitness and physical activity facilities (e.g. gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)
- Museums and aquariums
- Outdoor areas of amusement parks
- Salons, Personal Care, Tattoo Salons
“This is a huge and hard-fought victory,” said NCBATA President Zack Medford. “The easing of these restrictions would never have been possible without the tireless efforts of NCBATA members and allies over the past 343 days. We look forward to continuing to build on this success with the Governor’s Office and to help get our bar and taverns back up and running again. feet after such a devastating year. “
“Easing these restrictions will only work if we continue to protect ourselves and others from this deadly virus,” Cooper said. “The order and our own common sense say that health and safety protocols must remain in place.”
Johnson & Johnson says it will be able to provide 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services, praised the efforts of North Carolinians to curb the spread and keep up with “The 3 Ws,” to which she attributed the governor’s power. to begin easing restrictions.
Cohen cautioned, however, that trends, while positive, “are not yet where we need to be” in terms of viral spread.
Wednesday’s press conference took place the same day the state opened vaccines for teachers and other school staff. In Wake County, 10,000 school workers have already signed up for the waiting list.
Other essential Group 3 workers will be eligible to sign up for appointments starting next month.
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