By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on June 5, 2020
Update: Multiple media outlets are reporting that Governor Cooper, as expected, vetoed the bill that would have opened North Carolina bars for outdoor service.
Speaking during a June 4 press briefing, Governor Roy Cooper raised the possibility of moving to an intermediate Phase “Two point five” re-opening in North Carolina before going to a full Phase Three lifting of restrictions.
When the governor announced that the state would be moving into a more cautious “Safer-at-Home” Phase Two opening beginning on May 22, he indicated the state would be operating under those guidelines at least until June 26. That modified Phase Two opening also mandated that businesses such as bars and gyms remain closed.
At the June 4 press briefing, Cooper was asked about several pieces of legislation that would among other things, reopen gyms and allow bars to operate outdoors. In response, he stated that, “I have concerns about both of these bills because they take away flexibility at a time of emergency,” noting that if such openings were done legislatively, it would require new legislation to close such businesses should the COVID-19 outbreak in the state worsen.
But he added that, “There’s a possibility, before we get to the possibility of a Phase Three, that we might get to a Phase Two point five” in which such businesses could be re-opened.
State officials have stressed that they rely on key trends regarding the trajectory and impact of COVID-19 pandemic when making decisions about if and when to lift restrictions. Currently, two of those key trends—the number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 — have been moving in an upward direction, which could make additional re-opening decisions more difficult if the trends continue.
The recent surge in new cases, however, is also tied to major increases in the number of COVID-19 tests being administered in the state.