PEMBROKE, N.C. (WBTW) — North Carolina is heading into the weekend with newly-eased COVID restrictions.
A new executive order from Governor Roy Cooper went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday that in part ends the state’s modified stay at home order. In addition to ending that 10 p.m. curfew, the order eases some gathering and occupancy restrictions. The alcohol cut-off time has been changed from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“Be able to stay open later,” The Wing Company co-owner Jim Wiggins said of the order’s impact to his Lumberton restaurant. “To increase our hours of operations. Increase sales. It’ll help out. We’re still running 50 percent capacity which still hurts.”
Restaurants, stores and breweries are all under a 50 percent cap under the new order. Other businesses, like movie theaters and bars are under a 30 percent cap with the new order. Places under the 30 percent restriction may not exceed 250 people, however there is an exception for venues with more than 5,000 seats.
“When we started closing the bar at nine, a lot of people quit coming out because they started to hit the liquor store and drink at home,” Wiggins said. “Have parties at their house rather than come here and have to leave at nine. So I expect more people to come out and have a few drinks, enjoy themselves since they can stay out a little later on a Friday night.”
Notably, bars are allowed to open indoors for the first time in North Carolina since almost the start of the pandemic.
Gyms meanwhile, can now up their capacity to half full.
“I hope with those announcements from the federal government and our local and state leaders- that’s going to help our membership feel more comfortable start coming back, those who hadn’t come back,” Vernanda ‘Vee’ Oxendine said, who owns Stables Fitness in Pembroke.
Oxendine said he’s still down about a quarter of his membership from a year prior.
“It has been difficult,” he said. “Financially its been tough… We’re working as much as we can with these restrictions.”
A face covering is still required in all public indoor settings if non-household members are there. The same goes for outdoor public spaces if social distancing is not possible. Meanwhile, the mass gathering limit is now 25 indoors and remains 50 outdoors.
The changes come as North Carolina sees improvements in key COVID metrics.
Despite the rollbacks, some say it’s still not enough.
“As long as we… keep everything clean and sanitized and wear masks, I think 100 percent is where we should be,” Jim Wiggins said.
Click here for more details on the latest executive order.