Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is also the Republican candidate for governor running against the Democratic candidate, Gov. Roy Cooper, took issue with Cooper’s decision to close all the bars and restaurants in the state.

Forest in a statement released on Tuesday, March 17, noted that Cooper had sent out a press release stating that North Carolina restaurants and bars must close “in-restaurant seating” by 5 p.m. and noted, “After the press release, and shortly before the scheduled press conference, I, along with other Council of State members, was asked to concur with the Governor’s decision with no discussion. The Governor held his press conference and made the announcement even after a majority of the Council of State voted not to concur with the Governor. Thus, he does not have the authority to issue this part of the executive order.”

The Council of State is made up of 10 officials elected statewide. It includes the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor and commissioner of insurance.

Cooper’s office stated that the governor had the authority to close all the bars and restaurants in the state without the concurrence of the Council of State.

The executive order from the governor’s office states that the governor had the concurrence of the Council of State for Sections 2 and 3 of the order, which dealt with changes to the regulations governing unemployment benefits, but does not make the same claim about Section 1, which dealt with bars and restaurants.

The Council of State did concur with the changes to the unemployment payment regulations.

Forest maintains that Cooper also needed that concurrence to close the bars and restaurants and Cooper did ask for that concurrence.

Forest in his original press released stated the decision to close bars and restaurants “will devastate our economy,” particularly in rural areas. He later said that he didn’t disagree with the executive order itself, but the way it was done without input or agreement from the Council of State.