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Gov. Roy Cooper at a Jan. 6, 2021, COVID-19 briefing. (Pool photo)

Pressure mounts on Gov. Cooper

Two press releases I received today show the increasing pressure on Gov. Roy Cooper to proactively end the shutdown of North Carolina public schools and allow bars and taverns to open at a higher capacity.

** First into my in-box is from N.C. Senate Republicans, specifically Sen. Deanna Ballard, who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee.

Bipartisan supermajorities in the North Carolina General Assembly sent Gov. Roy Cooper a bill to reopen schools last week. The two-page legislation has been in the public for weeks.

Parents, some of whom have never before been politically active, have signaled their overwhelming support for the measure. Some have even purchased giant billboards imploring leaders to act.

But the far-left N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) opposes the bill, mirroring a nationwide trend: Health and education experts say schools should be reopened immediately, but teachers’ unions are flexing their political muscle to withhold in-person education from children.

Sen. Deanna Ballard, who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee, said, “Reopening schools is a national issue that impacts millions of families, especially working mothers. People are looking to their government for leadership, yet all they’re getting from the Governor is inaction. Gov. Cooper needs to either sign or veto the bill; continuing to procrastinate does nothing but hold our kids back.”

Read the full release here.

** Next into my in-box is from the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association. (emphasis is mine)

Covid-19 numbers are plummeting across North Carolina as 1,386,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the state. More than  26.4 percent of NC’s prioritized population has received a first dose, and 716,000 North Carolinians have been vaccinated fully. State bar owners have waited for 11 months to welcome customers back. Their staffs have been laid off, and their debts both business and personal have soared for 343 days. Now is the time to allow all bars to reopen safely. 

While North Carolina’s private bars have been mandated closed for nearly a year, brewery bars, restaurant bars, hotel bars and others have been allowed to operate since last May.

“We’re not asking to go back to business as usual,” said Zack Medford, president of the N.C. Bar and Tavern Association. “We’re just asking for Gov. Roy Cooper to turn the dimmer switch up a notch. We’re asking him to allow bars to operate at 30 percent capacity inside, and let them serve until 11 p.m. We can do it safely. We can do it wearing masks, and we can do it socially distant.”

NCBATA has been working with the Governor’s Office, along with General Assembly leadership on both sides of the aisle, to help private bars get their doors back open. The association has also been in contact with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to create guidelines for bars to keep their guests safe.

Read the full release here.

Gov. Cooper, are you listening? North Carolinians need your help.

Donna Martinez / Senior Writer and Editor

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...