North Carolina restaurants and bars closed to sit-down service

Published 11:49 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper talked about his Executive Order to close sit-down service in restaurants and bars at 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 17.

Take-out or delivery is still permitted.

“We did not come to this decision easily,” said the governor, acknowledging the hardship on businesses and employees.

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The order also takes down barriers to unemployment insurance for employees who lose jobs due to COVID-19.

Cooper said the order removes the one week waiting period and the requirement to search for jobs. Workers who lose jobs due to the virus can apply for benefits and do so online.

Employers will not be held responsible for benefits caused by COVID-19.

Cooper said the state expects a robust federal package to help workers. He expects to coordinate state relief with the federal package and work with the General Assembly on the state response.

The state’s unemployment insurance fund stands at $3.8 billion. The governor said that part of the fund will be used to meet the expected increase in unemployment benefits.

Cooper opened the conference reporting that the state has 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus and no deaths. All confirmed cases were from people who had travelled outside the state or who had contact with a person with the disease.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services added that those confirmed cases are in 16 counties. She said 1,100 tests are in state labs and more in private labs. She indicated that her department is working to expand sample collection sites.

“We will get through this together,” said Cohen.

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, this Executive Order has not been posted online.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest challenged the Governor’s authority to close restaurants and bars with the exception of takeout and delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadie Weiner, spokesperson for Governor Roy Cooper, shared the following statement:

“It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another to create a chaotic situation in the middle of a pandemic. The Governor is taking action to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians and does not need concurrence. The Governor and the Secretary of DHHS have the authority to do this under state public health and emergency powers law.”



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