Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – after consulting with Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers and others – has amended the county’s stay-at-home pandemic order to stop bars and restaurants from using an existing take-out exception that was allowing patrons to stay on the premises after 10 p.m.
Alston said on Wednesday, Jan. 13, that law enforcement officers had run into issues when it came to enforcing the 10 p.m. curfew at bars and restaurants. Some patrons remained inside even after that deadline because they were waiting on to-go orders.
The curfew stems from an executive order from NC Gov. Roy Cooper that was meant to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The new restriction, which was approved by Alston on Wednesday, Jan. 13 prohibits people from being indoors at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. – even if they’re waiting on to-go orders.
This countywide restriction goes into effect on Friday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m.
Alston said one of the governor’s Executive Orders issued in December had the unintended consequence of allowing patrons to remain indoors at local restaurants past 10 p.m. in order to place to-go orders. Several times, he said, law enforcement officers trying to enforce the rules had run into what some county officials called a “loophole.”
The county’s new rule states that during the “Night Time Public Closure Period,” which runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., non-exempt retail businesses “must be closed so that no Guests are admitted into the premises.”
Some exempt businesses unaffected by the 10 p.m. curfew are those that sell groceries, fuel or medication or other health care supplies.
The new rule doesn’t prohibit curbside pick-up, delivery, or drive-through sales to the extent they are permitted by the governor’s orders. It states, “For these purposes, premises shall not include parking lots, sidewalks, and drive through lanes.”
In a statement that Alston released along with public notice of the new rule, he said a lot of thought went into the move that some people will not like.
“Many critically important factors have been considered as we came to this decision – weighing opportunities for our local businesses to generate needed revenue against doing what is necessary to stem the effects of the rising tide of this pandemic on our communities,” Alston stated. “We certainly considered the available COVID-19 data provided by our Public Health Department, Cone Health, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical in High Point.”
Alston added that, while he wants to encourage the efforts of local businesses to keep up revenues and keep workers employed, he and other local leaders “could not ignore the many phone calls, emails, text messages, and incidents in our community as a result of the oversight.”