Gov. Roy Cooper announces more easing of restrictions

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

RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper announced more changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, citing continued improvements of key metrics and raising capacity limits for many types of industries.

Taking effect on Friday, March 26 at 5 p.m., Gov. Cooper said the newest executive order will increase allow 100% capacity for museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, as well as barbers, salons, and personal care businesses. All businesses must continue to maintain the 6 feet of distance requirement between patrons and implement other safety protocols as they expand their capacity.

“Our fast and fair vaccine distribution and our sustained progress with the COVID-19 metrics tell us we can move forward with easing restrictions if we do it safely,” said Gov. Cooper.

The order also allows 75% indoors and 100% outdoors for restaurants, breweries, amusement parks, and pools.

Increasing to 50% are conference centers, arenas, sports arenas, and live performance venues. During a question-and-answer session, Gov. Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said the 50% limit will also apply to high school sports.

Also, the alcohol curfew for on-site consumption that was most recently changed from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. will be lifted entirely and the mass gathering limit will be increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

“We are in a promising place. With North Carolina’s COVID-19 key metrics improving and vaccinations increasing, we can responsibly use our dimmer switch approach to easing restrictions guided by science and data,” said  Secretary Cohen.

The mask mandate stays in place for the forseeable future, according to Cooper.

The full Executive Order can be read here and today’s slides can be viewed here. The restrictions outlined remain in place through April 30.

This is a developing story and will be updated.