New Gov. Cooper executive order to increase occupancy capacity at businesses, entertainment venues | WJHL

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper said he is signing an executive order on Tuesday that will continue to ease COVID-19 restrictions that include increasing the maximum occupancy at some businesses.

“Strong safety protocols, including the mask mandate, will remain in place. It will be as important as ever to stay socially distant and use good judgment,” Cooper said.

Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and shops, barbers/salons/personal care shops can open at 100 percent capacity.

Restaurants, breweries and wineries, amusement parts and gyms and pools can open at 75 percent capacity.

Bars, sports arena and other live performance venues can open at 50 percent capacity.

Masks and 6 feet of social distancing will still be required for all of these establishments, and Cooper said that means some of them may not be able to reach the maximum occupancy allowed by the order.

Effective Friday, the 11 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol consumption will be lifted.

The mass gathering limit, which covers other kinds of gatherings not otherwise laid out in the order, will be increased to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.

“These are significant changes, but they can be done safely. We have said all along that the science and data would be our guide in this dimmer switch approach, and they show we can do this,” he said.

The order goes into effect on March 26.

“This virus and its more contagious variants are still spreading, and we may even need to be more careful as we ease restrictions in that we will likely come into contact with more people when we leave our homes and go into public places,” Cooper said.

Dr. Mandy Cohen with the state Department of Health and Human and Services said 31.7 percent of North Carolinians over the age of 18 are partially vaccinated against the virus.

Cohen said 18.8 percent are fully vaccinated.

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