NC businesses react after Gov. Cooper decides to ease some COVID-19 rules

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The governor is now easing some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The development was announced during a news conference Tuesday afternoon with the changes into Phase 2.5 taking effect Friday. 

“We’re doing everything we can,” said Jill Santa-Lucia, who started Catering Works 31 years ago.

More recently she expanded that business into event planning and opened a venue next door, the Laurelbrook.

“We were on track to have our best year ever. And with the cancellations, there was no planning for this,” Santa-Lucia said.

The business used to make more than a thousand meals a day, now it’s down to 50. Weddings for 10 people and the occasional business meeting don’t pay the bills. 

Overall, she said business is down nearly 90% from the same time last year. 

“We had high hopes today — we were going to get some good news and unfortunately, it was not the news we wanted to hear,” Santa-Lucia said.

After more than three months in Phase 2, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state would move into Phase 2.5. The new rules mean that mass gathering limits will be raised from 10 to 25 people indoors and from 25 to 50 people outdoors. 

“Restaurants can do 50 percent capacity, in these wedding venues, we should be able to do the same… it’s your family and your friends and they’re going to be much more considerate,” she said.

The shift also means outdoor playgrounds can reopen. Indoor playgrounds will be able to operate at 30% capacity. 

Museums and aquariums are also opening their doors. But they will be held to 50% capacity. 

“I was a little surprised that it happened today. We thought we’d have another week until he started talking about it at all,” said Dale Wilson, the vice president of hospitality for Marbles Kids Museum.

He said they’ve been planning for months how they would reopen safely. 

“We’ll be doing a timed entry, kind of admissions reservation. So we can limit the people that are in the building, know when people are arriving, do contact tracing,” Wilson explained. 

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