Gym & Bar Owners Frustrated By NC Phase 2 Extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Disappointment from gym and bar owners, after Governor Roy Cooper extended Phase 2 of reopening in North Carolina for another three weeks.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t surprised,” says yoga studio co-owner Halle Hillman.

She and Justin Gordon knew they would likely not be able to reopen their business, Sweat Method, on Friday.

“It’s extremely frustrating, to be honest with you. We have been closed, for going on three and a half months,” Hillman says.

The South End business has been open for less than a year and has been making do with limited classes in the parking lot.

“Right now, it’s a thing of, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ And unfortunately some of these local businesses aren’t going to make it out,” Hillman says.

Bar owners also share in the frustration.

“We’re sitting here trying to figure out how we’re going to pay our bills, how we’re going to pay our rent, utilities, insurance, you name it,” explains Zack Medford, a bar owner in Raleigh.

He is also president of the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association.

“Bar and tavern owners have been closed for 99 days today. With this new announcement from Governor Cooper, he’s effectively signed a death sentence for many of them across the state,” Medford says.

He says one of his biggest frustrations is that breweries and bars inside restaurants can open, but his tavern remains closed.

“Ultimately, 85 percent of our competitors are open. So we’re watching customers who would normally go to our bars, walk past our closed doors, and right up into the restaurant bar next door,” Medford says.

Back at Sweat Method, Gordon hopes the three-week extension and a new mask mandate will make a difference.

“It’s a waiting game and fingers crossed that three weeks is indeed what it takes and we see numbers either level off or come down,” Gordon says.

The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association filed a lawsuit earlier this month asking that bars be allowed to reopen. There was a hearing last week, but no decision.

The State House also failed on Wednesday to override Governor Cooper’s veto of a bill that would allow bars and gyms to reopen.