Out and About at WRAL.com

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— More tickets are available for hockey games, a comedian will perform in Raleigh, and Joe Lumbrazo couldn’t be happier.

Lumbrazo owns Backyard Bistro, across the street from PNC Arena, and his restaurant relies heavily on people grabbing dinner before going to an event there or stopping by afterward for a late meal.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on across the street, if it’s Disney on Ice, it could be anything. Whatever is going on across the street dictates the business we are going to do,” Lumbrazo said.

So, he was pleased when Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that capacity restrictions in place to limit the spread of coronavirus were being eased.

As of Friday night, PNC Arena will be able to seat 9,886 people, or 50 percent of its capacity. No spectators were allowed in the arena until late February, and then, the limit was set at 30 percent of capacity, or 5,930 people.

Immediately after the announcement, the Carolina Hurricanes put extra tickets on sale for Saturday’s hockey game against Tampa Bay. On Wednesday, PNC announced that actor and stand-up comedian Mike Epps would bring his “In Real Life Comedy Tour” show to the arena on May 9, marking the first entertainment event there in 14 months.

“We are all incredibly happy,” Lumbrazo said.

Backyard Bistro will be able to serve more of that crowd as well. The state’s new restrictions allow restaurants to accommodate up to 75 percent of their capacity indoors and 100 percent outside, as long as tables are spaced 6 feet apart and staff and customers wear masks when they’re not eating or drinking. Restaurants were previously limited to 50 percent capacity.

“People are getting out, getting a little more comfortable, getting their vaccinations,” Lumbrazo said, adding that he plans to hire back much of the staff he had to let go during the depths of the pandemic.

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