The COVID-19 pandemic may not be political, but the response to it is entirely political.
The North Carolina legislature, during the final days of the 2020 legislative session, passed three bills to reopen businesses that Gov. Roy Cooper by executive order closed and won’t allow to reopen.
Some of those businesses would have been allowed to reopen during Phase 2, which went into effect on May 22, but Cooper decided to tighten the restrictions for Phase 2 and keep them closed.
Then the business owners saw hope when Phase 3 was scheduled to go into effect on June 26, and Cooper decided to delay that until July 17.
Now Cooper has vetoed all three bills that would have offered some relief to businesses that have been shuttered since the shutdown orders began in March.
House Bill 806 would have allowed fitness facilities, gyms and health clubs to open under a prescribed 25-point plan. Cooper had previously vetoed a bill to open gyms and health clubs. This second attempt had more requirements and gave Cooper more leeway to restrict them, if necessary.
Senate Bill 599 would have allowed skating rinks and bowling alleys to reopen with a 12-point safety plan.
House Bill 258 would have allowed venues for receptions, amusement parks, arcades, fairs and carnivals as well as dining and beverage establishments at outdoor stadiums to open under strict guidelines.
Cooper also vetoed a bill that clarified the law that states the governor has to have consensus from the Council of State to take actions such as shutting down a large percentage of the state’s economy during an emergency.
House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said in a press release, “Governor Cooper’s scattershot executive orders are picking winners and losers instead of delivering real results for the people of North Carolina. Families and individuals are desperate for a balanced approach to recovery that protects the public’s health without permanently devastating small businesses across our state.”
He added, “Actions always speak louder than words and it is clear Governor Cooper is unwilling to prioritize struggling North Carolinians over his own power.”
Cooper in a press conference said that he had to keep the businesses closed because he was more interested in opening schools, but Cooper still has not presented a plan for opening schools, which are supposed to start the school year in August.