Responding to improvements in key COVID-19 metrics, including reduced COVID-19 daily diagnoses and lower total percentages of positive COVID-19 tests, Governor Cooper implemented Executive Order (EO) 195 effective at 5:00pm on February 26, 2021. EO 195 will remain in effect until 5:00pm on March 26, 2021.
Before we dive into the nuts n’ bolts of EO 195, it is important to remember that COVID-19 is still very dangerous. We’ve suffered more than 500,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., and more than 11,000 COVID-19 deaths here in North Carolina. In comparison, the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths equals the total number of Americans lost in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined. A sobering statistic, indeed, so please continue taking simple (but important) precautions to keep us all safe.
Executive Order 195
These are the major changes ushered in by EO 195:
- The Night-Time Public Closure period for certain businesses (e.g., bars, restaurants, music venues, lounges, gyms, etc.) and facilities is lifted. These establishments are no longer ordered to close to the public between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- The Modified Stay at Home Order for individuals is lifted. Individuals no longer must stay at home or the place they will remain for the night between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
- Indoor areas of bars may reopen, subject to reduced capacity limits (see ‘capacity limitations’ section below) and requirements.
- The curfew on alcohol sales remains in place but is modified to take effect at 11:00 p.m. instead of 9: 00 p.m. The sale and service of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for on-site consumption between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Indoor areas of amusement parks may reopen, subject to reduced capacity limits (see ‘capacity limitations’ section below) and other requirements.
- Capacity limitations on certain businesses are increased (see ‘capacity limitations’ section below).
- The mass gathering limit increases to 25 people indoors (and remains 50 people outdoors).
These provisions of past executive orders remain the same in EO195:
- Mixed beverage “to-go” sales (for pick-up or delivery) are still allowed.
- The capacity limitations on certain businesses (see ‘capacity limitations’ section below), sanitation standards, other public health restrictions, and applicable NCDHHS Guidanceremain in effect.
- Face coverings are still required in all public indoor settings if non-household members present. Face coverings continue to be required in public outdoor settings if individuals are unable to maintain six feet of social distance from non-household members.
EO195 breaks down capacity limitations into two categories: 30% and 50%.
30% Capacity Limit of stated fire capacity (or, if no stated fire capacity, no more than 12 guests per 1000 sq. ft.) (may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces):
- Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
- Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
- Auditoriums, Arenas, and other venues for live performances
- Indoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Sports Arenas and Fields (includes professional, collegiate, and amateur)
- Movie Theatres
- Gaming Facilities
50% Capacity Limit of stated fire capacity (or, if no stated fire capacity, no more than 12 guests per 1000 sq. ft.)
- Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
- Recreation (e.g., bowling, skating, rock climbing)
- Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g. gyms, yoga studios, fitness centers)
- Museums and Aquariums
- Retail Businesses
- Salons, personal care and grooming businesses, tattoo parlors
- Seating Requirements
Guests at bars, lounges, night clubs, and other venues for live performances must remain seated unless entering or exiting, using amenities, visiting the restroom, or obtaining food or drinks.
AND, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, guests may be seated at a bar counter but must maintain social distancing.
For more information on past EOs and other relevant topics, please see our prior ASKLAW blog posts here.
Updated: February 25, 2021