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Free, at last! Governor partially reopens N.C. after lockdown
Sunday, 28 February 2021 21:12

From Staff Reports


RALEIGH — As North Carolina’s numbers continue to show improvement and vaccine distribution increases, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Feb. 24 that the state will carefully ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions under Executive Order No. 195, which took effect at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 nd will expire at 5 p.m. March 26.

“Today’s action is a show of confidence and trust, but we must remain cautious. People are losing their loved ones each day,” Cooper. said “We must keep up our guard. Many of us are weary, but we cannot let the weariness win. Now is the time to put our strength and resilience to work so that we can continue to turn the corner and get through this.”

Also speaking at the Feb. 24 press briefing, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said, “Keep wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart and washing your hands. We’ve seen in the past how fragile progress can be, so we need to keep protecting each other while we get everyone a spot to get their shot.”

Among other changes, the new executive order lifted the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

What more, the new order increases the number of people who may gather indoors from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. 

Also, the curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption has been shifted from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

“Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors as they adhere to new occupancy restrictions,” a press release from Cooper’s office noted. “Many businesses, venues and arenas will have increased occupancy both indoors and outdoors.

Asheville OKs new hotel rules with public benefits requirements
Sunday, 28 February 2021 21:11

From Staff Reports


Asheville City Council voted 6-1 on Feb. 23 for new regulations specifying how new hotel plans can win approval. 

“It happened on the same day that the city’s year-and-a-half-long moratorium on new hotels expired,” Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) noted.

Meanwhile, the Asheville Citizen Tmes ran a headline in its online edition on council’s hotel rules vote as follows: “As Asheville’s hotel ban ends, hoteliers are steered to reparations payments.”

Under the new regulations, “council will no longer have to approve every new hotel if hotels can meet certain requirements,” News 13 noted. “A hotel first has to be allowed according to the new revised hotel overlay map. The revised map took out urban renewal properties, so new hotels would not be built there.

“The hotel also has to meet a public benefits requirement. It incentivizes hotels to do things like pay the living wage, offer affordable housing or pay to the city’s reparations fund.

“If hotels can meet those requirements, they can get approved by the joint design review committee. If hotels fail to meet those criteria, then a hotel would have to go to council for approval.”

City staff was asked to report back in a few months to explain how the so-called “work in progress” is functioning. “We have made some really great strides here, and I do think that we will probably make some revisions,” Councilwoman Sage Turner said, News 13 reported.



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