RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Senate has passed a bill that would reopen gyms and bars with outdoor seating.
The Senate voted 36-13 in favor of the House Bill 594 on Tuesday. The bill now heads to the House.
The bill would allow gyms to reopen at 50-percent capacity and would require employees to wear masks.
Gov. Roy Cooper has kept gyms closed during Phase Two of reopening.
Cooper and state health officials said they did not include gyms in Phase Two because they view that as a “high-risk activity” with people breathing hard and potentially spreading the virus.
Gym owners across the state have said they want to find a way to reopen while being mindful of social distancing.
Some gym owners have defied the governor’s executive order and opened anyway. Others have been working to try to find a way to convince the governor they can open while adhering to social distancing and being mindful of the impacts of COVID-19.
The bill would also allow certain existing establishments to offer and operate outdoor dining and beverage service options at 50-percent of the current indoor seating capacity of the establishment, or 100 customers, whichever is less.
Last Friday, Cooper vetoed a bill that would have allowed bars to reopen with outdoor seating, in part because it would have limited his ability to put restrictions back into place if there’s a surge in COVID-19 cases.
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