N.C. Legislature Sends Governor Small Business Rescue Bill Reopening Gyms, Reworking Outdoor Seating

Raleigh, N.C. – The General Assembly gave final approval to legislation allowing fitness centers to safely operate in North Carolina this week, and included a revised outdoor seating policy to address the Governor’s veto of a bill to treat dining and beverage establishments equally.

The revised legislation allows the Governor to re-close bars and gyms with concurrence of the Council of State, a common requirement of emergency authority in North Carolina.
After preparing to reopen in Phase 2, gym owners were unexpectedly forced to remain closed. As a result, gym owners across the state filed lawsuits against the Administration.
Noticeably, all states that border NC have reopened fitness facilities. House Bill 594 allows exercise and fitness facilities, gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers to safely operate under the prescribed 15 point plan.
Representative Kyle Hall (R-Stokes) and Representative Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) released the following statement:
This legislation allows gyms, fitness facilities, bars, and restaurants to operate while prioritizing health and safety and addressing the Governor’s concerns,” said Reps. Hall and McGrady.
NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also released a statement:
“Gov. Cooper’s inconsistent actions have left businesses and families struggling and frustrated. It is time to let the private sector lead with smart health and safety measures to get North Carolinians back to work,” Speaker Moore said.
Gov. Cooper’s current executive order allows restaurants to operate indoors or outdoors at 50 percent capacity, but prohibits other establishments from operating under the same rules.
The legislation also treats all beverage and dining service establishments the same and allows them to operate at 50% of total capacity.
Many cities and states across the country are promoting outdoor seating as a safe way to allow bars and restaurants to stay afloat amid ongoing capacity restrictions.
There is considerable evidence that the coronavirus spreads more easily indoors compared to outdoors, which supports the outdoor seating policies already embraced by other states.