Governor Cooper issues Executive Order to close sit-down service at restaurants and bars

Published 10:51 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday announced that North Carolina restaurants and bars will be closed to sit-down service and limited to take-out or delivery orders starting at 5 pm on March 17.

Grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, are exempt from this order and will remain open, though they may not serve sit-down food.

Additionally, the order lifts some restrictions on unemployment benefits to help workers unemployed due to COVID-19 and those who are employed but will not receive a paycheck. Additionally, it adds benefit eligibility for those out of work because they have the virus or must care for someone who is sick.

“We did not come to this decision easily. But North Carolina must keep fighting this pandemic with the right weapons,” said Governor Cooper. “During this time of uncertainty, I will keep working to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians and keep our state’s economy afloat.”

This order will directly aid workers who may have lost wages in restaurants and meeting places due to mass gathering restrictions. For example, workers who lose income due to tips or scheduled work hours, but are still employed, would be eligible for benefits because of this Executive Order. Among other changes:

It removes the one-week waiting period to apply for unemployment payment for those workers who lose their jobs;

It removes the requirement that a person must be actively looking for another job during this time when many potential employers are closed and social distancing guidelines are in effect;

It allows employees who lose their jobs or, in certain cases have their hours reduced due to COVID-19 to apply for unemployment benefits;

It directs that employers will not be held responsible for benefits paid as a direct result of these COVID-19 claims; and

It waives the requirement that people must apply for benefits in person; workers can apply for benefits online or by phone.

Make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS.

For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at and NCDHHS’ website at, which includes daily updates on positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.