Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety
Restrictions are easing in North Carolina effective this Friday. On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a COVID-19 briefing that he is lifting the 11 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol consumption and increasing maximum occupancy limits for several establishments.
Cooper’s Executive Order 204 will lift restrictions on the late-night sale of alcohol, allowing establishments to serve until 2 a.m.
The order will also allow restaurants, amusement parks, retail businesses, gyms, pools, breweries and wineries to increase capacity 75% indoors and 100% outdoors.
Spots like bars, sports arenas, conference centers, reception venues and other establishments for live performances can increase capacity up to 50%.
Other mass gathering limits will be increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
In addition, effective Friday, we will fully lift the 11 pm curfew for on-site alcohol consumption. Finally, 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.
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) March 23, 2021
However, Cooper said the mask mandate will remain in place, and 6 feet of social distancing will be required of all of these locations. Cooper also said some establishments may not reach the maximum capacity the order allows because of the location’s size.
“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.”
These changes come as the state sees significant improvement in COVID-19 metrics.
As of Tuesday, North Carolina has administered more than 4.1 million COVID-19 vaccinations. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 18.8% of adults are fully vaccinated, and almost a third have received at least one dose.
Cooper also announced that group 5 vaccinations could begin before May.
BREAKING: Cooper tells me North Carolina could start vaccinating all remaining people earlier than expected. Officials say group 5 vaccinations could begin before May. @wsoctv
— Tina Terry (@TinaTerryWSOC9) March 23, 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 899,164 cases of COVID-19, and 11,854 people have died from COVID-19 in North Carolina. Currently, 956 are hospitalized because of the virus.
Cooper urged the state to continue taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19 so the state can continue to ease restrictions.
“I’m grateful for the efforts of people across the state,” Cooper said. “But the pandemic is not over. We’re only able to keep the virus in check while we ease restrictions if people act responsibly and follow safety protocols.”