New guidance issued by Gov. Roy Cooper has cleared the way for breweries, wineries and distilleries to reopen under Phase 2 of state rules to control the spread of COVID-19.
The guidance came after a challenge by industry groups of an order issued by Cooper on Wednesday that lumped breweries in with bars and other entertainment businesses that must remain closed through June.
Cooper ordered most retail businesses to close in March to limit transmission of the virus. Wednesday’s order allowed restaurants, barbershops and hair salons to reopen but not establishments that are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption.
Problems arose because some restaurants call themselves “breweries” or “bars” and some breweries call themselves “restaurants” or “bars” and some bars call themselves “restaurants” or “breweries,” Friday’s guidance said.
Establishments shall not be considered bars if they produce alcoholic beverages for commercial sale off-premises — most brew pubs and wineries sell their products for consumption off-premises as well as on site.
“We’d like to thank Gov. Cooper and his staff for working with the NC Craft Brewers Guild to provide the needed clarification to allow our industry to reopen in a safe manner,” a news release from the guild said.
“As breweries are already experts in sanitation and food safety standards, we will set the example for how to conduct operations that keep our customers and our employees safe,” it said.
The Greenville area is home to a half dozen or so breweries that serve craft-made beer on site and for distribution. Facilities were able to open at 5 p.m. on Friday along with restaurants and hair care businesses.
The number of COVID-19 cases statewide on Friday sat at 21,618, up more than 700 from Thursday. Deaths rose from 716 to 728. In Pitt County, the number of cases grew by 12 from 230 to 242.