New rules would clear limited opening for bars and movie theaters, but Cooper says state’s top priority remains returning children to in-person school.
Nice job masking up, North Carolina. You can now have a beer (outside) at a bar or watch a movie with real movie theater popcorn.
The state has made it to Phase 3, allowing bars, movie theaters and other entertainment venues shuttered since March to open.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference that he would relax some more of the restrictions that were put in place to prevent the Spread of COVID-19. The new phase will start on Friday at 5 p.m. and stay in place until at least Oct. 23, Cooper said.
Movie theaters, which have been shuttered since the spring, can open up. So can outdoor amusement parks and rides and bars that have outdoor spaces. All will be at reduced capacity, and alcohol sales will still be stopping at 11 pm.
Cooper emphasized that North Carolina’s progress against the dangerous disease is fragile and encouraged people to continue wearing masks and maintain physical distances when possible.
“Our top priority remains getting children back to in-person learning,” he said.
North Carolina has largely avoided some of the deadly spikes and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus seen in other parts of the country. But the disease has taken a significant toll, both in terms of people’s lives and the ensuing economic fallout. Today, more than 210,000 cases have been reported in the state, causing the deaths of 3,532 people. And more than 1.3 million people have applied for unemployment aid since mid-March, according to state data.
The state had been in what was considered Phase 2.5, which allowed gyms and outdoor playgrounds to open and gave public schools the option to move elementary-school children to in-person classes. Those measures were slated to expire Friday evening.
In Phase 3, which will start Friday, the state will allow the following to operate, at reduced capacity: movie theaters, bars (outdoor service only) and outdoor amusement parks. Large outdoor venues that can seat over 10,000 people (places like the Panther’s Bank of America Stadium) can allow in 7% of the normal capacity. ]
Meanwhile smaller venues can operate at 30% of their capacity, or a max of 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Halloween is coming at the end of October. Cohen emphasized that the holiday isn’t “canceled” but will have to be different this year. She cautioned against indoor gatherings and said it’s important to make sure costumes incorporate masks (the kind that keeps COVID-19 at bay, not disguises).
Think of different ways to celebrate – a backyard candy hunt, for instance, or a way to distribute candy at a distance without people reaching into the same bowl.
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