New Executive Order Eases Restrictions
As a result of cases and other key metrics trending downward, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 195 that will ease gathering and occupancy restrictions and end the modified Stay at Home Order.
Executive Order No. 195 has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30% capacity and 50% capacity.
Because indoor spaces have a higher risk of spread for COVID-19, indoor facilities in the 30%-occupancy category may not exceed two hundred fifty (250) people per indoor room or indoor space.
30% Capacity Limit (may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces):
- Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
- Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
- Indoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Movie Theatres
- Entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments)
- Sports Arenas and Fields*
*Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250-person limit if they follow additional safety measures up to 15% capacity.
50% Capacity Limit:
- Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
- Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)
- Museums and Aquariums
- Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Salons, Personal Care, Tattoo Parlors
EO 195 will go into effect on Friday at 5:00pm, and is set to expire March 26th at 5:00 pm. The full text can be read here.
Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program
Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees have an exclusive two-week window to apply for Paycheck Protection Program funds. That period began on Wednesday and will continue for two weeks. This is an effort to ensure equity in how dollars are distributed. The hope is to reach small businesses that may have previously missed out on opportunities to access the program. Also, several eligibility modifications have been made to make the program more widely available. These changes include making funds available to self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, and independent contractors. These folks now qualify for funds previously closed to them because loan amounts were calculated based on the number of employees a business has.
The PPP was relaunched in January with $284 billion in new funds from a COVID relief bill. Roughly $150 billion dollars of PPP money is still available. The expanded eligibility rules will be effective beginning in the first week of March.