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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Charlotte Bars, Nightclubs Prepare To Reopen Under Eased Restrictions

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North Carolina bars can welcome customers back inside Friday evening for the first time in nearly a year as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions.

Many Charlotte-area bars and nightclubs are preparing to reopen this weekend for the first time in nearly a year. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order Wednesday allowing many businesses that have been closed since the start of the pandemic to reopen at limited capacity beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

Bars, movie theaters and nightclubs will be allowed to operate at 30% capacity. Bars were previously limited to serving patrons outdoors. The order also lifts the 10 p.m. curfew that has been in effect since early December, though on-site alcohol sales are prohibited after 11 p.m. and the statewide mandatory face mask order is still in effect.

“We’re finally going to get to reopen,” chirped the voice on a pre-recorded voicemail message for Roxbury, a nightclub in uptown Charlotte, on Thursday morning. “Arrive early. We have a limited capacity. All levels and the patio will be open.”

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Roxbury owner Jody Sullivan said he was scrambling to get the venue ready by Saturday at 7 p.m. — cleaning, dusting, doing inventory and hiring bartenders and security.

"I had a cooler repairman here until 9 o'clock last night," Sullivan said. "I had my walk-in cooler down, two beer bottle coolers down and an ice machine down. When things aren't running, that's what happens."

Roxbury has been closed since March 2020, according to Sullivan, with the exception of a handful of fall weekends when it opened for outdoor patio customers. He estimated he's lost "well above $200,000" because of the closure.

El Centenario, a nightclub in the University City area that has previously come under fire for opening in violation of executive orders, will reopen to customers at 7 p.m. Friday —two hours earlier than normal —and cap the number of people allowed in the club at 250.

“It is a blessing to get something, finally,” said owner Kevin Galyan.

He said the eased restrictions will help toward easing his financial woes —he hasn’t been able to pay rent on the nightclub’s building in nearly a year —but would like to see them relaxed even further.

“It’s still a long ways from what we really need after being closed a year,” Galyan said.

El Centenario had its alcohol license suspended at least once for being open in violation of the governor’s previous coronavirus restrictions. In May 2020, agents with North Carolina’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission said they observed that the club was “open for business and serving alcoholic beverages with no social distancing measures in place and no employees or patrons were seen wearing face coverings of any kind,” according to an order of summary suspension obtained by The Charlotte Ledger.

At least one other Charlotte nightclub won’t be reopening right away. LGBTQ club Scorpio is waiting until March 5, according to a post on the business’ Facebook page, with doors opening at 8 p.m.

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