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Gov. Cooper lifts stay-at-home order, eases some restrictions for bars and outdoor venues

Bars can open at 30% capacity indoors or a 250-person cap. Outdoor venues can open at 30% and no longer need a 100-person limit.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper announced he will lift North Carolina’s stay-at-home order on Friday. He’s also easing some COVID-19-related restrictions for bars, restaurants and other venues.

The announcement comes as North Carolina’s four key COVID-19 metrics are trending downward or stabilizing. One of those metrics is hospitalizations, which are at their lowest since before Thanksgiving. In addition, 27 counties are considered red-zone counties – down from 61 counties just two weeks ago.

“We have reason for hope in North Carolina. Fewer are getting sick. Fewer are needing a hospital. All the metrics that we measure continue to stabilize,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s new executive order means no more statewide 10 p.m. curfew. Alcohol sales will still need to end by 11 p.m. The mask mandate will remain in place.

Gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers, pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries and wineries may now open at 50 percent capacity with health and safety protocols. The state said many businesses, venues and arenas will have increased occupancy indoors and outdoors. 

Outdoor venues and businesses that were limited to 30% capacity will still be limited to that percentage, but won’t have a 100-person cap. 

That includes:

  • Sports fields and venues
  • Stadiums
  • Outdoor bars
  • Outdoor amusement parks
  • Other outdoor businesses

Indoor businesses will be able to open at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people.

These businesses include:

  • Bars and taverns
  • Indoor amusement parks
  • Movie theaters
  • Indoor sports arenas

The number of people who may gather indoors will also increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors.

State health leaders are still urging for people to do their part and social distance while out in public.  

“Keep wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart, and washing your hands. We’ve seen in the past how fragile progress can be, so we need to keep protecting each other while we get everyone a spot to get their shot,” said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Executive Order No. 195 will take effect Feb. 26 at 5 pm and will expire March 26 at 5 pm.

“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” Governor Cooper said. “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 announcement comes as more than 11,000 people in North Carolina have died from COVID-19. Here's a closer look at the numbers. 

Statewide Data as of Wednesday:

  • Newly-confirmed cases: 3,346
  • Percent positive: 6.0%
  • Total cases: 849,630
  • Current hospitalizations: 1,530 (lowest since 11/17)
  • Total deaths: 11,074