Wednesday, 30 September 2020 19:04

COOPER: Bars can open outdoors only

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COOPER: Bars can open outdoors only RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — After more than six months of being closed because of government mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic, bars in North Carolina can open again — sort of.


Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he will be easing more restrictions on certain businesses as the state enters Phase 3 of on Friday.

“The virus continues to spread, so we must take the next steps methodically and responsibly,” Cooper said, after warning that the state could see another spike in coronavirus cases. “And we must rely on North Carolinians taking personal responsibility to protect others by wearing masks and keeping their social distance.

However, the restrictions on bars are still prohibitive.

Double Vision owner Richard Robinson, whose establishment has been closed since mid-March, said he was optimistic when he first heard bars could reopen — but that optimism was short-lived as he said the regulations “make no sense.”

According to Cooper’s latest executive order, all indoor seating areas and amenities, including pool tables, must remain closed and alcohol can’t be served indoors, but can be sold outdoors as long as it's allowed by local regulations.

The 11 p.m. curfew on selling booze will remain in place.

That leaves outside seating areas — which are limited to the lesser 100 people, 30% of the stated outdoor occupancy, or no more than seven people per 1,000 square feet.

Groups of guests must also remain six feet away from other groups. Entertainers must also stay at least six feet away from guests.

These restrictions also apply to smoking lounges, venues for live performances, dance halls and night clubs, and adult entertainment facilities.

Robinson said he will “go to the drawing board” and plan for outdoor events.

Amusement parks can also open under Phase 3, provided all indoor attractions and rides remain closed.

Small outdoor venues and movie theatres can open at 30% capacity and outdoor arenas that hold 10,000 or more can open at 7%.

Cooper’s order also mandates the wearing of facial masks by everyone over the age of 5 both indoors and outdoors when six feet of distancing can’t be maintained, with some exceptions.

See the governor’s executive order attached to this post.

Private clubs that sell food were allowed to reopen at a limited capacity in June.