By WECT Staff | September 22, 2020 at 1:26 PM EDT – Updated September 22 at 4:22 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – State officials are planning to allow larger outdoor event venues that hold more than 10,000 people to reopen at 7 percent starting Friday, Oct. 2.
“Today, we are announcing that because of our continued stability, we plan to take another step toward Phase 3 in coming days if our progress holds. That step will mean larger outdoor event venues will be able to open at 7% capacity starting next Friday, October 2,” Cooper said during a news conference Tuesday. “We share this news today so those outdoor venues with seating capacity of more than 10,000 can begin preparations that are key to safely re-opening their doors to have a limited amount of socially distanced fans.”
Cooper said the state set the benchmark at 10,000-capacity venues because the larger venues allowed for more social distancing.
“We wanted to make sure that we were talking about large outdoor arenas where there would be plenty of space for social distancing,” Cooper said. “Looking at sizes of stadiums across the state, the 10,000 number was determined to be a good number. The 7 percent capacity leaves plenty of room for social distancing.
“But not just that – we think it’s really important for theses arenas to have separate entrances, to not have place where people can congregate, to make sure that only families or people who live in the same households sit together, and that there is significant social distancing and mask wearing.”
Help for small businesses
During Tuesday’s news conference, Coopers announced a $40 million relief program to help small businesses with fixed costs like rent, mortgage and utility costs.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Cooper said during Tuesday’s news conference. “They deserve our support, and this new initiative can help them weather this tough time. But substantially more help is needed for small businesses and Congress and the President must act as soon as possible.”
The N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) program can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location.
“Business applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations,” the governor’s office stated in a news release. “Applicants can apply for up to four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses. The help offers relief for some of the fixed costs a business cannot easily control on its own.
“Applications to the program should open next week and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must certify that they were closed during the period April 1 through July 31, 2020; they expect to be able to operate after the COVID crisis has passed; and they have not been reimbursed by any other federal source for the expenses for which they seek reimbursement through this program.”
Eligible applicants include:
- Amusement parks
- Banquet halls (with catering staff)
- Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges
- Bingo parlors
- Bowling alleys/centers
- Dance halls
- Indoor fitness and recreation centers
- Motion picture/movie theaters (except drive-ins)
The Department of Commerce is expected to begin accepting applications in the near future.
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