Gov. Cooper lifts modified stay-at-home order, eases other Covid-19 restrictions

Bars and taverns will be allowed to open for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

With North Carolina’s Covid-19 trends declining and stabilizing, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that his modified stay-at home order will be lifted on Friday at 5 p.m., along with the easing of other restrictions. 

This means:

  • The curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be lifted.
  • Bars will be allowed to reopen at 30% capacity, including indoors. Capacity will be capped at 250 people. Alcohol cannot be served after 11 p.m.
  • Social gathering size will be 25 people indoors (up from 10 indoors) and 50 people outdoors.
  • The cap on alcohol sales will be extended from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Businesses that were operating at 30% capacity no longer have a 100-person cap. That includes outdoor sports fields and venues, outdoor bars, indoor areas of amusement parks and other outdoor businesses. However, there is still a 250-person cap on indoor spaces.
  • More spectators will be allowed at high school, college and professional sports events. The number allowed will depend on the venue size.
  • Indoor arenas with a capacity of 5,000 or more people will be able to open with up to 15% capacity, as long as they follow safety protocols.
  • Workers, athletes, entertainers and staff don’t count toward the above capacity limits.

Cooper last extended the modified stay-at-home order on Jan. 27. Although Covid-19 numbers had stabilized, Cooper said they were “still high.” 

One thing won’t change: Cooper’s mask mandate.

“Easing these restrictions will only work if we keep protecting 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.”

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As of Wednesday, North Carolina has confirmed 849,630 total cases of Covid-19, and at least 11,074 people had died from the disease, which is caused by the coronavirus.

Nationwide, the United States this week passed 500,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Cooper attributed the stabilization of cases in North Carolina to more people receiving Covid-19 vaccinations. He said more than half of the people 65 and older in the state have been vaccinated.

Wednesday also marked the first day that all educators could get vaccinated, regardless of age. Cooper announced that on March 10, additional members of Group 3 — including essential workers — will be able to get vaccinated.

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