North Carolina Governor Lifts “Stay at Home” Order and Amends COVID Restrictions

This week, Governor Roy Cooper issued a new Executive Order 195 lifting his modified “Stay at Home” Order and loosening various restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. Among other things, the Order increases the number of people that may gather indoors from 10 to 25, changes the curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., opens businesses such as bars and amusement parks with occupancy restrictions, and increases indoor and outdoor occupancy for certain businesses, venues, and arenas. The new Order is effective on Feb. 26, 2021 at 5 p.m. and extends through March 26, 2021.

What are some notable changes under the Order?

Some changes to note under the Order are:

• The night-time public closure period for certain businesses 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 and other 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 and other requirements.

• The mass gathering limit increases to 25 people indoors (and remains 50 people outdoors).

What remains the same?

Notable things that remain the same are that the capacity limitations on certain businesses, sanitation standards, other public health restrictions, and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Guidance remain in effect. In addition, a face covering is still required in all public indoor settings if there are non-household members present, regardless of the individual’s ability to maintain social distance. 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

What are the occupancy changes?

The Order has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity.

Facilities covered by the 30% capacity limit (may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces) include bars, meeting, reception, and conference spaces, lounges (including tobacco) and night clubs, indoor areas of amusement parks, movie theatres, entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments), sports arenas, and fields.

Facilities covered by the 50% capacity limit include restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, fitness and physical activity facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities), pools, museums and aquariums, retailers, outdoor areas of amusement parks, and salons, personal care, and tattoo parlors.

What about sports?

Spectators are allowed both indoors and outdoors at sporting events. At outdoor sporting events, the facility must limit spectators to 30% of the facility’s stated fire capacity or 7 guests for every 1,000 square feet. At indoor sporting events, the facility must limit spectators to 30% of the stated fire capacity of each indoor room or space, with a maximum of 250 people allowed in each indoor room or space. Indoor sporting event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250 person limit if they follow additional safety measures, but these facilities may not exceed 15% of fire capacity.

Some Notable FAQs

FAQs for the new Executive Order may be accessed at this link

The FAQs provide information on a number of topics including bars, sports, meeting spaces, receptions and outdoor events.

If you have questions, please contact Alex Elkan or Ed Turlington, linked below.


Brooks Pierce is dedicated to keeping our clients fully informed during the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 Response Resources page.

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