Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Cooper orders gyms partially open, keeps bars closed

Cooper orders gyms partially open, keeps bars closed

  • Updated
  • 0

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Starting Friday, North Carolina will reopen more businesses under a so-called Phase 2.5.

The directive announced Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will allow gyms, bowling alleys and other indoor recreational facilities to open at a reduced 30% capacity, but keep other businesses that have been shuttered for months closed longer as the state works toward a Phase 3 reopening.

Citing flattening numbers of COVID-19 cases and the percentage of tests coming back positive, Cooper said North Carolina was equipped to further open its economy. Cooper has kept Phase 2 in effect since late May.

“Because of our stable numbers, we’re ready to take a careful step forward,” Cooper said in a news conference.

The executive order increases the number of people allowed to gather indoors from 10 to 25 and the number of people who can assemble outdoors from 25 to 50. Cooper’s directive allows playgrounds to reopen and museums and aquariums to operate at 50% capacity.

Bars, movie theaters, nightclubs, dance halls, amusement parks and indoor entertainment venues are to remain closed.

Cooper said the mandate for face coverings will stay in place. If people continue to follow health protocols, he said, he doesn’t anticipate a surge in cases as more businesses open.

“These careful movements forward should not affect the viral spread,” Cooper said.

For months, North Carolina has remained in its second phase of reopening, drawing the ire of some Republicans who worry the state has been too slow to reopen.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is looking to unseat Cooper this November, questioned whether the governor’s decision is being driven by science or politics and said other states have been able to safely open more businesses.

“Other states have their businesses and schools open,” Forest said in a news release. “It’s time for fear and panic to be replaced with hope and opportunity. It’s time for Governor Cooper to actually protect the most vulnerable and give North Carolinians their freedoms and livelihoods back.”


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at and


Follow Anderson on Twitter at


Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

On Friday, the N.C. State Board of Elections's remaining three members voted to waive their attorney-client privilege on the settlement. That allowed the official minutes of the previously secret settlement discussions and previously confidential memos from the board's legal staff, and lawyers from Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein's office, to be released to the public.

Recommended for you

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News