N.C. Senate passes bill to allow for outdoor seating at bars, restaurants

N.C. Sen. Rick Gunn via Rick Gunn Facebook page.

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Gunn (R-Alamance) to allow restaurants and bars to expand outdoor seating equal to 50 percent of total occupancy. The bill passed a bipartisan 42-5 margin.

Gov. Roy Cooper has not said whether he supports or opposes the measure, which would force a change in policy from the most recent phase two executive order.

Currently in executive order 141, restaurants can operate indoors or outdoors at 50% capacity, but prohibits bars from operating under the same rules.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Gunn would treat bars and restaurants as the same, and allow them to operate outdoors at 50% of total capacity.

Sen. Gunn said of the legislation “My bill treats restaurants and bars the same, and it follows the lead of other jurisdictions by allowing safe outdoor seating options. This is a lifeline to a dying industry.”

Senator Gunn added, “Other states and cities are expanding outdoor seating options based on the science, facts, and data. This industry has taken the brunt of the shutdown, and this policy just makes sense. I hope Gov. Cooper will support it.”

The bill now moves to the North Carolina House.