COVID-19News & Opinion

Gov. Cooper Announces Updated Executive Order for North Carolina

Businesses to close at 10 p.m., alcohol sales end at 9

At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper announced an executive order for North Carolina that will close most restaurants, bars, retail establishments and other businesses at 10 p.m., with on-site alcohol sales ending at 9 p.m. each night. The order takes effect at 5 p.m. on Friday and will run through Jan. 8 at the earliest, as health officials continue to try to combat a recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

“I think it’s pretty clear that the later in the evening you go, the larger these gatherings can be at these businesses,” Cooper said Tuesday. “People become more uninhibited and that can present more opportunity for spreading the virus.” 

executive order North Carolina
NC DHHS Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shows how things have taken a turn for the rose over three weeks at Tuesday’s press conference.

Businesses must close and events such as movie screenings, live performances, and youth sports must end at 10 p.m., according to the order, though college and pro sports are exempt. Businesses that sell groceries, medication, fuel, or health-care supplies are exempt from the order as well. Restaurants will be allowed to continue serving takeout and delivery past 10 p.m.

Cooper called Executive Order 181 a “new, modified stay-at-home order,” as North Carolina residents are asked to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each night. The curfew includes certain exemptions such as the following: 

  • People traveling for work purposes
  • People traveling from a business that closes at or after 10 p.m.
  • People traveling to a business that open at or after 5 a.m.
  • People traveling to obtain groceries, fuel, medications or health-care supplies
  • People traveling to care for a family member, friend or pet in another household
  • People traveling for personal safety reasons
  • People traveling into or out of the state
  • People using or providing shared transportation (buses, taxis, ride shares, etc.)
  • People traveling to or attending religious services
  • Media
  • First-responders and government employees

The governor’s order came on the heels of Monday’s news that 11 North Carolina health-care providers will receive early shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines, including Atrium Health in Charlotte. The facilities chosen for the first shipment of about 85,000 inoculations could receive them as early as next week if the vaccine is approved and cleared by federal regulators as expected. 

The first vaccinations will be given to high-risk health-care workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, followed by adults with chronic conditions. 

At Tuesday’s press conference, Cooper pointed out that 82 out of 100 N.C. counties are in the orange or red, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services County Alert System, meaning they are experiencing substantial or critical community spread. 

executive order North Carolina
Test-positivity rates in Mecklenburg County. (Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to the most recent local data, released Tuesday morning by Mecklenburg County Public Health and covering cases reported through Sunday, test-positivity rates in Mecklenburg County have been at an average of 11% over the past week, while the average number of people hospitalized due to the virus on any given day is at 242, both of which are increasing trends compared to the previous two weeks. 

Over the past week, several local business have shut down due to staff members testing positive for the coronavirus, including Town Brewing, Thomas Street Tavern, Hoppin’, Lost & Found, Brewers at 4001 Yancey, Workman’s Friend, Gin Mill, Birdsong Brewing and The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.


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