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North Carolina’s modified stay-at-home order to end Friday; Governor Cooper eases restrictions on businesses
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s modified stay-at-home order will end on Friday, and many businesses will be able to serve more customers, Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Cooper said he will be issuing a new executive order that goes into effect on Friday, Feb. 26.
“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.”
Effective Friday, Cooper will lift the modified stay-at-home order, ending the state’s curfew and opening up more opportunities to gather, shop and attend events, if done safely.
The mandatory mask mandate remains in place.
Many businesses will be able to stay at or expand to 50% capacity, including gyms, museums, aquariums, pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries and more.
On-site alcohol service will be extended to 11 p.m.
Businesses ordered to operate outdoors at 30% capacity will remain under that restriction. However the 100-person cap will be lifted. This includes outdoor sports fields, amusement parks and bars.
Some indoor businesses can open at 30% capacity with a cap of 250 people. This includes bars, taverns, indoor amusement parks, movie theaters and indoor sports arenas. This is the first time that bars have been allowed to open indoors for the first time since early in the pandemic.
There will be an exception for large indoor arenas with a capacity of more than 5,000 people will be allowed to open to 15% of capacity so long as safety protocols are in place.
Cooper will also increase the mass gathering limit to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors
Recent data for North Carolina has shown hospitalizations and the percent positive rate have been trending downward, a positive sign.
“Fewer people are getting sick,” Cooper said. “Fewer are needing the hospital. All of the metrics that we measure are continuing to stabilize.”
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said that 27 counties are in the red with “critical community spread.” However, this shows a drop from a peak of 61 counties.
As of Wednesday, Cooper said that more than half of North Carolinians ages 65 and over have been vaccinated.
Beginning Wednesday, North Carolina’s school employees and child care workers are eligible to get the vaccine. On March 10, more essential workers will be eligible.