The three-month anniversary of a major Cooper betrayal

It’s August 20. Three months ago, on May 20, beleaguered small business owners were looking for a lifeline.

Gov. Roy Cooper had originally promised they’d be open nearly a month before, on April 29. That changed on April 23, when he delayed any reopening and announced instead his “three-phase” plan for reopening.

Cooper has never even fully allowed “Phase 2” yet. Here is what happened three months ago:

May 20 was when the move to Phase 2 was expected to be announced. This meant, among other things, finally allowing several kinds of businesses to reopen partially after having been cruelly shut down for two months (we cannot forget that most small businesses have only enough cash on hand to survive being shut down for about 17–27 days). Here’s what was reported leading up to the announcement:

  • Charlotte Business Journal: As phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening approaches, poll shows residents interacting more
  • ABC11 WTVD: “Wednesday Morning Update: For the first time in months, North Carolinians may be able to eat at a restaurant or make a hair appointment this weekend. It’s possible that the state will move into Phase 2 of the reopening process on Friday at 5 p.m. Roy Cooper is expected to announce details on starting Phase 2Wednesday at 5 p.m. … Under Phase 2, restaurants, bars, houses of worship and entertainment venues can open with reduced capacities and strict safety protocols.”
  • WRAL: “The end of Phase 2 means people may be able to get a haircut or go to the gym again. … People have not been able to go to the gym and salons have had signs up saying they are closed until further notice. Today we expect the governor to announce plans that will allow these places to reopen.”

What actually happened?

Out of nowhere, Cooper announced a “modest” Phase 2 “reopening.” His new order allowed people be outside of their homes without suspicion and allowed retail establishments to be open at half-capacity, including barber shops, salons, and restaurants, as well as bars attached to restaurants, grocery stores, breweries, wineries, or distilleries.

But despite promises to the contrary, and without warning, Cooper’s new order kept the other bars, gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, theaters, music venues, playgrounds, etc. closed, supposedly for another five weeks.

Of course, now we know the “another five weeks” was another in a series of Cooper betrayals of these small businesses. They’re still closed.

In fact, we’re under more restrictions than we were on May 20, not less. Even as Cooper tells us that our trends are stabilizing; in fact, in yesterday’s press briefing he stated outright that

A review of our key metrics make it clear that most of North Carolina’s indicators remain stable and some are declining.

We should be reopening. By saying that, Cooper has once again acknowledged NC has met what was his announced standard for reopening. The fact that we’re not is another Cooper betrayal.

Three days from now will be the four-month anniversary of a previous Cooper betrayal.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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