Gov. Roy Cooper lifts state curfew

Gov. Roy Cooper briefs media at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper on Feb. 24 announced he was lifting the state’s curfew on Friday, Feb. 26 and some capacity limits will be eased.

A day earlier, on Tuesday, news outlets began to report that areas such as capacity at indoor and outdoor sporting events, indoor seating at bars, increased capacity for restaurants, and an easing of the state’s curfew would be part of the announcement.

Citing significant and sustained improvement in the state’s COVID-19 data, Cooper said he would “ease, not lift” restrictions that have been in place for indoor attractions and bar operation.

“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” said Gov. Cooper. “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.”

Among the changes announced are 50% capacity for venues such as gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers, pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries and wineries. They must also continue to follow health and safety protocols set by the state.

In addition, venues allowing on-site service of alcohol will be able to operate until 11 p.m. and indoor bar capacity is now set to 30%.

Indoor arenas with capacity greater than 5,000 people will be able to have up to 15% capacity if more safety protocols are followed. This applies to college and professional sports.

Gov. Cooper announced that the state’s mask mandate will continue in addition to limits on mass gatherings, but those numbers will be increased to 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.

“We’ve seen in the past how fragile progress can be, so we need to keep protecting each other,” N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen said.

Read Executive Order 195 and the FAQ for order 195.

View the slides presented by NCDHHS.