Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday the state will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions starting at 5 p.m. Friday

“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” Cooper said in a news release. “We must keep up our guard. Many of us are weary, but we cannot let the weariness win. Now is the time to put our strength and resilience to work so that we can continue to turn the corner and get through this.”

The new executive order lifts the modified stay at home order, which includes a 10 p.m. curfew. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Bars are among the businesses that can now open for patrons. Outdoor sporting venues, including high school football stadiums, will have increased capacity.

The new executive order has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity. Because indoor spaces have a higher risk of spread for COVID-19, indoor facilities in the 30% category may not exceed 250 people per indoor room or indoor space.

The following fall in the 30% capacity category:

• Bars
• Meeting, reception, and conference spaces
• Lounges (including tobacco) and night clubs
• Indoor areas of amusement parks
• Movie theaters
• Entertainment facilities (bingo parlors, gaming establishments)
• Sports arenas and fields
• Venues

Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250 person limit if they follow additional safety measures up to 15% capacity.

The following fall in the 50% capacity category:

• Restaurants
• Breweries, wineries, distilleries
• Fitness and physical activity facilities
• Pools
• Museums and aquariums
• Retailers
• Outdoor areas of amusement parks
• Salons, personal care and tattoo parlors

Safety protocols such as masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing will continue to be important as people adjust to the new order, health officials said.