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N.C. gyms, bars stay closed as COVID-19 veto stays in place

RALEIGH (AP) — The North Carolina General Assembly failed on June 24 to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a measure that would have allowed gyms and bars to open again despite his executive order keeping them closed due to COVID-19.

Republicans in charge of the House were unsuccessful persuading enough Democratic colleagues to essentially cancel the governor’s veto from last week. The bill would have allowed the fitness centers and bars shuttered since March to reopen at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing and cleaning mandates. Bars would have been allowed to serve only outdoors. It also would have expanded current outdoor seating for restaurants already partially reopened for sit-down service.

The override failure came on the same day Cooper announced that rising virus-related case and hospitalization numbers warranted that the governor extend the bar and gym closures already in place until at least July 17.

“These numbers clearly tell us that we should not be moving forward with easing restrictions,” Cooper said at a media briefing before the override vote. His most recent order would have otherwise expired on June 26. He said gyms would be on the list of businesses that could reopen next month if a statewide mask order he also announced June 24 helps stabilize increasing case trends.

“We believe these numbers will level out and we can begin easing restrictions on these riskier businesses that right now have restrictions,” Cooper said.

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