By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on May 17, 2021
Nags Head is the latest town to react to Governor Roy Cooper’s May 14 announcement that lifted mask-wearing mandates in most circumstances and cancelled social distancing and mass gathering requirements.
The town has announced that it will continue to recognize and issue special use permits for “restaurants [that] may still have a need to make temporary accommodations, including expanded outdoor dining, in the interest of their business and customers.”
As explained by Nags Head Director of Planning & Development Michael Zehner, the town had issued a total of nine such special use permits to Nags Head restaurants during the pandemic, predominantly to allow for outdoor dining so those businesses could “recapture a lot of the seating area they were losing,” due to restrictions on indoor dining.
Zehner added that the special use permits are connected to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which was declared by Cooper in March 2020.
Of those nine permits issued, Zehner explained that seven are still active. And despite the state’s dramatic easing of COVID restrictions, Nags Head says it will continue to recognize those permits through Nov. 28 of this year, regardless of whether State of Emergency is lifted or not. At the same time, it will also continue to issue special permits, if needed, up until Nov. 28 no matter what the status of North Carolina’s State of Emergency.
On May 14, the neighboring town of Kill Devil Hills issued its new Executive Order in the wake of Cooper’s decision. It informed restaurants in that town that they can continue to operate with outdoor dining as long as there is no net gain in the number of seats allowed. The Order also eliminates food trucks operating in the town, although Mayor Ben Sproul said he doesn’t believe there are any currently operating.