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State House Passes Bill to Allow Safe Outdoor Seating for Dining and Beverage Service in North Carolina

Raleigh, N.C. – The state House of Representatives approved legislation today to allow safe outdoor seating for dining and beverage service in North Carolina at half of each establishment’s total maximum occupancy.

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.

House Bill 536 Temp Outdoor Restaurants for Outdoor Seating treats all beverage and dining service establishments the same and allows them to operate at 50% of total capacity.

“This legislation provides equity for North Carolina businesses that are hardest-hit by the economic shutdown and will deliver revenue for desperate small businesses by allowing safe outdoor seating options,” Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) said.

Many cities and states across the country are promoting outdoor seating as a safe way to allow bars and restaurants to stay afloat.

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.

“We join our colleagues across the General Assembly urging Governor Cooper to sign this legislation immediately to offer a lifeline to thousands of businesses across North Carolina through a safe, commonsense policy that is supported by science and data,” state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said Thursday.

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