With Covid-19 cases declining and more people getting vaccinated, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he signed an executive order to ease more restrictions in North Carolina.
Beginning Friday at 5 p.m., Cooper said:
- Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, salons and personal care shops will be able to increase capacity up to 100% indoors and outdoors with safety protocols in place.
- Restaurants, breweries, wineries, amusement parks, gyms and pools, and other recreation establishments will be able to increase capacity up to 75% indoors and 100% outdoors.
- Bars, conference centers and reception venues, sports arenas, and other venues for live performances will be able to increase capacity up to 50% indoors and outdoors.
- The 11 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol consumption will be lifted.
- The mass gathering limit, which covers other kinds of gatherings not otherwise laid out in the order, will be increased to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.
“These are significant changes, but they can be done safely,” Cooper said. “We have said all along that the science and data would be our guide in this dimmer switch approach, and they show we can do this.”
The mask mandate won’t change as a result of Cooper’s order because, he said, it’ll be more important than ever as more people will be out and about starting Friday.
“We want to strengthen our economy while keeping people safe, and it is on all of us to make that happen,” he said. “The last thing we want is to backslide.”
Cooper previously eased restrictions in late February when he allowed bars to reopen at 30% capacity, businesses who were operating at 30% capacity to no longer have a 100-person cap, and he lifted his modified stay-at-home order.
As of Tuesday, North Carolina had confirmed 899,164 total cases of Covid-19, and at least 11,854 had died from the disease, which is caused by the coronavirus.
Cooper said he’s optimistic about North Carolina’s numbers because the state’s percent of positive tests is hovering around 5%. In addition, he said, 4.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered and 18.8% of residents are fully vaccinated.