Friday, 03 July 2020 13:39

Cooper vetoes gym, other reopening bills

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RALEIGH — A bill to reopen gyms that gained bipartisan support in the state legislature was one of several vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday.

House Bill 806 started out as legislation to provide limited immunity from COVID-19 claims to owners of privately owned community swimming pools operated by apartment complexes and homeowners and condo unit owners associations.

But, after passing both chambers, that wording was stripped and substituted in a conference committee.

The bill included a 14-point safety plan that would have allowed gyms to open at 40 percent capacity — 10 percent less than restaurants — and required other measures including temperature-checking, cleaning and social distancing.

One Rockingham gym, Evolution Health Club, has already reopened and the owner, Blake Altman, was cited with a misdemeanor for violating the governor’s executive order.

Cooper also vetoed bills that would have: allowed skating rinks, bowling alleys, amusement parks and arcades to reopen; clarified emergency powers of the executive branch; kept the governor from prohibiting parades and fireworks displays on Independence Day; allowed concealed carry permit holders to have handguns on property that is both a school and place of worship; and bills related to the Department of Health and Human Services and Division of Social Services.

"Tying the hands of public health officials in times of pandemic is dangerous, especially when case counts and hospitalizations are rising,” Cooper said in a veto statement for the reopening bills. “State and local officials must be able to take swift action during the COVID-19 emergency to prevent a surge of patients from overwhelming hospitals and endangering the lives of North Carolinians. The bill could restrict leaders who need to respond quickly to outbreaks and protect public health and safety."

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said Cooper’s orders “are picking winners and losers instead of delivering real results for the people of North Carolina.”

See the details of the bills signed and vetoed here.