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More COVID restrictions lifted in NC

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a March 23 press conference. Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a March 23 press conference. UNC-TV photo

As coronavirus case counts continue to decline and vaccination totals continue to rise, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a new executive order further loosening restrictions on gatherings. 

“The millions of people in North Carolina who’ve worn masks and acted responsibly deserve credit for this success,” said Cooper during a March 23 press conference. 

Cooper’s new executive order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, March 26, and although the mask mandate remains in effect, the order raises important limits for a number of businesses. 

Museums, aquariums, retail businesses and personal care establishments, like barbers and salons, may now operate at 100 percent of fire code occupancy. 

Restaurants, breweries and wineries, as well as amusement parks, gyms and pools, can now operate at 75 percent capacity indoors, and 100 percent capacity outdoors. 

Conference centers, bars, sports arenas and other live performance venues can now operate at 50 percent capacity so long as safety protocols remain in place. Additionally, the 11 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol consumption has also been lifted. 

The state’s mass gathering limit, which covers gatherings not specifically laid out in the order, has been increased to 50 indoors, and 100 outdoors. 

Cooper’s order will take effect exactly 364 days after President Donald Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the state, and 381 days after Cooper himself declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina. 

During that time, almost 900,000 North Carolinians tested positive for the virus. Almost 12,000 of them died as a result.

As of March 23, more than 22 percent of North Carolinians and more than 28 percent of North Carolinians over the age of 18 had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

To read the full text of Cooper’s latest executive order, visit

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