North Carolina’s restaurants and bars will reopen for dine-in service this weekend when the state enters into the second phase of reopening, according to an email from an industry group.

As first reported by the News & Observer, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association sent out an email to its members on Tuesday stating restaurants will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity Friday. 

Governor Roy Cooper said Monday an official announcement regarding the decision to enter phase two will come later in the week.

As of Tuesday, the state has reported 19,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 691 deaths. Cases have been reported in all 100 counties statewide and 585 people remain hospitalized with the virus. 

While  the last few days have seen an uptick in cases, Cooper noted Monday he was “hopeful” the state could move forward into phase two this weekend based on the latest trends and data. Saturday saw the state’s highest spike in cases so far with 853 new cases of the virus, while another 700 confirmed positive tests were reported Tuesday. 

Still, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen told reporters Tuesday trends are going in the right direction overall. The state is currently conducting up to 7,000 tests each day and the percentage of positive tests has leveled off at around 7 percent. 

Phase two of Cooper’s three-part plan lifts the stay-at-home order allows restaurants and bars to offer dine-in service at half capacity per the business’s fire code regulations, or fewer than a dozen people for every 1,000 feet. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table to support social distancing. 

“We’ve been in daily communication with the Governor’s office and the department of health and human services,” Lynn Minges, executive director of the NCRLA told the N&O Tuesday. “It’s a relief in that we know what to expect and plan for. We know that it won’t be business as usual, restaurants won’t be as crowded, guests will see booths empty, but I think it’s going to feel great.”

The news comes too late for some Raleigh businesses, including Oakwood Cafe, Linus & Pepper’s and Ashley Christensen’s Chuck’s, which have already announced they would not reopen once restrictions are lifted.

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at

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