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NC remains in Phase 2, bars and gyms will stay closed until September 11

When Gov. Roy Cooper makes an announcement Wednesday on the next steps toward completely reopening North Carolina, multiple sources tell WRAL News that they expect to see the status quo continue.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina will stay in Phase 2 which, among other things, keeps gyms, bars and large entertainment venues like movie theaters closed.

Gov. Cooper says the state will stay in Phase 2 for five weeks, which would end on September 11 unless extended.

On May 22, when North Carolina moved into Phase 2 of a three-part plan to resume business and social activities, retail stores and restaurants could reopen, but bars and gyms were excluded.

Bars, nightclubs, gyms and other indoor fitness facilities have been closed since March 30, when Cooper first issued an executive order limiting travel and commercial activity in hopes of containing the coronavirus. On July 14, Cooper extended that executive order for a second time, through Aug. 7, and added a requirement that people wear masks when out in public.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said the five-week period was chosen to be able to understand which way the coronavirus trends have headed as students return to school over the next several weeks in August.

"Experts believe our mandatory mask order stabilized our numbers. Just last week, we added a curfew on alcohol sales to keep restaurants from turning into bars, which are high transmission areas. Our success at returning thousands of students, teachers and staff safely to the classroom this month depends on us doing what works," said Cooper.

Many gym and bar owners told WRAL News they're struggling, and some filed lawsuits. Some state lawmakers joined the fight to reopen businesses.

"While we are seeing stabilization of our numbers, that doesn't mean we can let up," said Cooper.

Cooper said the state has stabilized at a number of coronavirus cases and percent plosive that is too high, He explained the state needs to continue to work drive those numbers down.

"We think that staying at Safer-at-Home Phase 2 will help us do that," said Cooper.

Wednesday night, Zack Medford, president of the N.C. Bar and Tavern Association issued a response via press release.

“From day one, the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association has asked to be subject to the exact same plan of public safety as the opened bars. And what difference could it possibly make where the beer is made? The policy does not make sense and is discriminatory. Bar owners are going bankrupt with no aid and for an unfair policy.

“We are begging the governor to either offer help to the bars he is forcing to stay closed or to allow them to operate under the exact same conditions that he’s allowing every other type of bar to operate. It is time for the Governor to stop villainizing the North Carolinian-owned bars he never allowed to reopen, and start finding ways to help us survive. We are losing our livelihood, our homes, our families’ futures.”


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