Governor Cooper’s new executive order will allow thousands more people into sports arenas, hundreds more into music venues, and dozens more into smaller restaurants, starting this Friday.
It also allows onsite alcohol sales at bars, restaurants, and other venues until 2am.
Here are the specifics:
- Museums, aquariums, retail businesses, salons and barbershops can open 100% indoors and outdoors.
- Restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, pools and other recreation establishments can open up to 75% indoors and up to 100% outdoors.
- Bars, conference centers, reception venues, sports arenas and other venues for live performances can open up to 50% indoors and outdoors.
- Late-night alcohol sales will no longer be limited.
- The gathering limit increases to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.
Why it matters: The lifting of restrictions, which came on the anniversary of the day he ordered barbershops and salons and other businesses to close, is a reflection of improving coronavirus metrics. And it’s another milestone as the state steps toward reopening.
- “We want to strengthen our economy while keeping people safe, and it is on all of us to make that happen,” Cooper said during a press conference Tuesday.
Some businesses and organizations responded quickly: The Charlotte Hornets said they’ll increase the capacity of fans at Spectrum Center from 15% to 25%, allowing roughly 5,000 fans per game, starting with the next home game on Friday against Miami.
What they’re saying: Restaurateur Jeff Tonidandel says he views this as a baby step toward more-normal operations.
It means Haberdish, Supperland and the other restaurants he co-owns with his wife Jamie Brown can stay open later with the easing of the late-night alcohol sales restriction, but he doesn’t see the new executive order expanding seating much.
- Tables still need to be at least six feet apart even at 75% capacity indoors. “We can go through with a measuring tape today and see if we can add a few more people,” he tells me.
The state of play: Coronavirus numbers continue to slow locally, statewide and nationally.
- The state has had fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized for a week now. That’s a third less than it had one month ago.
- Mecklenburg County has improved in state’s county alert system, too.
- Vaccinations have also accelerated with about a third of the state population over the age of 18 at least partially vaccinated, according to NC DHHS.