CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina's statewide curfew takes effect Friday night, just hours after state health officials reported another single-day record for new COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported 7,540 new cases, shattering the previous record set earlier this week. On Thursday, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of NCDHHS, said the state was on a "dangerous course" as cases and hospitalizations rise to record highs. Over the last two weeks, North Carolina is averaging 5,000 new cases per day. Cohen issued a statement after Friday's report.
"Having more than 7,500 cases is staggering and alarming," Dr. Cohen said. "We are now seeing the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings. Do not wait until it is you or your loved one alone in the hospital or you are facing the loss of a loved one to wear a mask, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands often. Act now. Please ask yourself what you can do to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives."
Gov. Roy Cooper made the announcement about a modified stay-at-home order and nighttime curfew on Tuesday. Under the order, unless an activity is considered essential, everyone is required to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Businesses, including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, most retail stores and more will be required to close at 10 p.m. Alcohol sales are required to stop at 9 p.m. The sale of alcohol cannot resume until 7 a.m.
"It means just what it says: people are to stay at home between those hours," Cooper said.
The order couldn't come at a worse time for businesses across the state. December is typically a big month in the restaurant industry, and after a tough 2020, many business owners were counting on a big holiday season to close the year. According to the National Restaurant Association, over 100,000 restaurants nationwide have closed their doors permanently or long-term due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For those still open, the average restaurant has seen a 36% drop in revenue this year due to the restrictions put on businesses.
"Shortening our hours is never beneficial for us," General Manager at Queen Park Social, Brad Bird said.
Business like Queen Park Social, will now close their doors earlier than usual, and can't sell alcohol past 9pm. For Bird, he's frustrated as videos shows business not enforcing masks or capacity.
"Countless places, other bars where there's unmasked people all over the place partying like it's 1999 or 2019. If we were enforcing that we would not be in this position," Bird said.
"We are in red status at the federal level," Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. "Limiting all activities outside of your home to essential needs, the vaccine is our future not our present."
Under the modified stay at home order, CMPD says officers will respond to violations if they get a complaint.
"We won't be setting up road blocks or check points in relation to that, in short, but if we come across you out in the public past hours you may be questioned on your whereabouts in compliance with the order," Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said.
Meanwhile, at Dot Dot Dot, they're seeing less reservations as more people get sick. The new curfew creating yet another obstacle. Owner, Stefan Huebner hopes people wear a mask, social distance, and don't gather in large crowds.
"I wish people would take it more serious," Huebner said.
Multiple businesses in Charlotte have announced they will be temporarily closing to protect staff members and customers from the virus.
Certain essential activities are exempt from the curfew like going to work, shopping for essential items or seeking medical care.
Here's what you can do:
- Visit the pharmacy or store to get essential medicine
- Shop at stores for essential supplies
- Visit the hospital or get medical attention
- Care for family members who are sick
- Go to work
- Order carryout or food for delivery
Here's what you cannot do:
- Go to the gym
- Dine in at restaurants
- Hang out at bars
- Visit friends
The new restrictions come as the state sees more COVID-19 cases than ever. Gov. Cooper has warned that if the case trends do not start moving in the opposite direction, more restrictions could be necessary.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have said they won't actively set up checkpoints to enforce the new curfew, but officers can give warnings or citations to those who are caught violating the order. A violation of the order is considered a misdemeanor.