BREAKING: N.C. imposes 10 p.m. curfew
New order from governor orders most businesses to shut at 10 p.m.; Plenty of exceptions for work and essential activities; Last call moved up to 9 p.m.
Good afternoon! Today is Tuesday, December 8, 2020, and we’re coming to you with HOT BREAKING NEWS 🔥 .
Gov. Roy Cooper takes new measures as Covid numbers rise
by Tony Mecia
North Carolina is imposing a 10 p.m. curfew that takes effect on Friday, the latest move from state officials trying to tamp down on rising Covid numbers.
In a news conference this afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper said the “modified stay-at-home order” is needed to try to control the spread of the virus.
“We have to act now to save lives, safeguard our hospital capacity and preserve our economy,” Cooper said.
The new curfew says state residents should stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. But like earlier “stay-at-home” orders, this one contains a number of exceptions, such as for people heading to or from work; getting groceries, gas or medical supplies; and traveling to “take care of a family member, friend, or pet in another household.”
Earlier closings: Restaurants will need to close at 10 p.m., and so will most retailers — except for those selling groceries and other essential supplies. Alcohol is now required to stop being served at 9 p.m., the order says.
Events are now expected to wrap up by 10 p.m., except for college and pro sporting events, which are exempted.
[Read the new executive order]
Limited effect? Frankly, the prospect of not being allowed to venture out after 10 p.m. is going to have little effect on the lives of a majority of Ledger readers. If you’re accustomed to going out in South End, on the other hand, you might have to alter your weekend plans — although rules in place for the last few months cut down on late-night partying by stopping alcohol sales at 11 p.m.
It’s unclear how much these measures might affect the Covid numbers. Cooper presented no data that showed how much late-night gatherings are contributing to the spread of Covid and said the effect is “hard to measure at this point.” The new order does not change capacity reductions at businesses or order certain businesses to close, as some companies have feared.
Chipping away at late-night: Instead, Cooper described the new curfew as an attempt to reduce the opportunities in which people can be infected. Late-night, he said, is a time when “more uninhibited” people gather closer together and when there “can be more opportunity to spread the virus.”
“The later in the evening you go, the larger some of these gatherings can be,” he said. “… We are tying to chip away at those times. … This tells people they really need to go home.” He added that people still need to be careful during the daytime, too.
Previously, state and local health officials have also pointed out that young people — who tend to be more active in the hours after 10 p.m. — constitute an outsized number of Covid cases. In Mecklenburg County, for instance, data shows that 59% of Covid cases have been diagnosed in residents aged 39 and under, though just 2% of the deaths.
The new order contains plenty of exceptions. Here’s what it says:
Between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM, all individuals in North Carolina must stay at home or at the place they will stay for the night, except for:
Travel to or from a place of work when a worker's presence is required by the worker's employer;
Travel for work purposes;
Performing work at the workplace or other location directed by the employer when the worker's presence is required by the worker's employer;
Travel to obtain groceries, take-out food, medical care, fuel, health care supplies, or social services;
Travel from a business that closed at or after 10:00 PM;
Travel to a business that will open at or after 5:00 AM;
Travel to take care of a family member, friend, or pet in another household;
Travel necessary for purposes of personal safety;
Travel into or out of the State;
Travel required by law enforcement or court order; and
Using or providing shared transportation (including without limitation taxicabs, ride shares, buses, trains, airplanes, and travel to airports, train stations, or bus stations)
It also exempts first responders and the media and does not apply to government activities and certain religious activities.
The order is scheduled to run through Jan. 8.
Worrisome Covid trends
The move comes as North Carolina, like many other states, is experiencing worsening Covid numbers. The number of confirmed daily cases is more than double the levels of the summer and fall, the percentage of Covid tests coming back positive is on the rise and the number of patients hospitalized with Covid is double the number from a month ago.
North Carolina has averaged more than 5,000 new Covid cases a day in the last week, far more than previous levels. Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
Statewide, the number of hospitalized Covid patients increased to a record, 2,373 on Monday — about twice as many as a month earlier. There are 15,785 patients in hospital beds across the state for all reasons, Covid and non-Covid, with 5,154 empty, staffed beds. Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
How we stack up: Yet the Covid figures in North Carolina, like those in other states in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, are better than elsewhere: North Carolina ranks #40 out of the 50 states for the number of Covid cases per capita in the last week, according to the New York Times. The state ranks #41 in Covid deaths per capita in the last week.
In North Carolina, out of 100 N.C. counties, Mecklenburg ranks #45 in cases per capita in the last week and #52 in deaths per capita in the last week.
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith