RALEIGH, N.C. - Governor Cooper announced changes to the state's COVID-19 restrictions during a press conference on Wednesday.
Gov. Cooper announced a new Executive Order that goes into effect on Friday, February 26.
He said many restrictions will be easing but the only restriction that is all together lifting is the modified stay at home orders. There will be no more curfew and more opportunities to gather, shop and attend events, he said.
Cooper said the mandatory mask mandate will stay in effect as it is more important than ever when people start gathering more.
Cooper said many businesses and venues can expand to 50% occupancy. This includes businesses like gyms, museums, pools, barber shops, restaurants, breweries, amusement parks, etc.
Another change will be on site service alcohol sales. Now, sales can end at 11 p.m.
Some businesses that were limited to outdoor capacity of 30% will still have that limit but no longer have a 100 person cap. This includes outdoor bars, stadiums, sporting venues, etc.
The new Executive Order also allows some indoor businesses to operate at 30% capacity with a cap of people at 250. This includes bars, theaters, and indoor sports arenas. An exception here though is if the venue has a capacity of more than 5,000, the order will allow for 15% capacity with no cap. This means most college and professional sports can have fans at 15% capacity with certain restrictions, Cooper said.
Cooper added that this is the first time bars can open indoors since the beginning months of the pandemic. Like restaurants, alcohol sales must stop at 11 p.m. there too.
Mass gathering limits are now allowing for 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors.
Currently, North Carolinians are required to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and businesses are required to close by 10 p.m. Alcohol consumption sales also currently have to end at 9 p.m.
Additionally, face coverings are required in all public indoor settings and indoor gatherings were limited to 10 people or less.
As of Wednesday, North Carolina had 849,630 total COVID-19 cases and 11,074 total COVID-19 related deaths. That was 3,346 new cases and 109 additional deaths since Tuesday.