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March 17, 2020

Gov. Cooper on executive order closing restaurants

Access to unemployment will become easier

Governor Roy Cooper announced an executive order removing barriers to unemployment for those losing jobs due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, many of whom are service industry employees. Five changes are in place to do so. They are:

  • Removing the one-week wait period for unemployment benefits
  • Removes the requirement that those seeking benefits must also be looking for another job
  • Allowing those who have had their hours cut due to COVID-19 to apply for unemployment benefits
  • Allowing for applications to be filed remotely with interviews online or over the phone
  • Not penalizing employers for layoffs due to COVID-19

Cooper also explained the reasoning behind mandating a closure. He commended the restaurants and bars that took last week’s recommendations to limit crowds seriously.

“Unfortunately, some have not, so today we are ordering them to close,” he said in the press conference. Several bars posted photos on social media showing packed crowds celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Cooper also encouraged the federal government to take steps to mitigate the financial burden of those who have lost their jobs, or will in the coming weeks. When asked about payroll and sales tax, Cooper said the priority was first to offer relief to those laid off. More measures are being considered at both the state and federal levels.

“The new reality is that people will be losing jobs, and businesses have lost customers,” he said. —Kristen Wile

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