Local businesses celebrate easing of COVID-19 restrictions

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Big news for businesses all over the state Tuesday night as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced easing the restrictions on how many people can be inside and how long they can stay.

Barbers, salons and retail shops can now go to full capacity.

Businesses like gyms, amusement parks and restaurants can now be at 75-percent capacity.

Many owners are celebrating getting back a little closer to normal.

“They’re excited about being able to come and see that we’re thriving and to make sure we’ll be here forever. (laughs),” said Stephane Macall.

Macall has reason to be in a good mood after the governor’s press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“We can move forward with easing restrictions,” said Macall.

Because the numbers are looking so good, Gov. Cooper eased off the clutch and is allowing businesses to stay open longer and have more people inside.

For businesses like “The Armored Cow” in the University area, the news can’t get much better.

“It’s been tough you know? You get those goals in mind when you first open up then you have to readjust and not know how to readjust because no one has ever dealt with this before,” said Macall.

Macall and her husband opened the brewery just a couple of months before COVID-19 shut everything down. It was bad timing that cost many businesses dearly.

But with the help of grants and a loyal customer base, they were able to pull through it.

Andrew Kalinoski admits it was nerve-racking.

“We weren’t even established, it hit hard. It was terrifying,” he said.

The couple sunk tons of capital into their dream business, and their hopes as well as their future hinged on the virus.

“And then to have it just deathly quiet,” said Kalinoski.

But with the restrictions slowly lifting, the crowds are coming back.

And it’s about to get a whole lot better.

Under the new state mandate, some of the hardest hit businesses will get to open at full capacity including salons and museums.

Restaurants and breweries, like The Armored Cow, will now be able to pack in at 75-percent capacity.

Some of the larger venues like sporting events and concerts will get to have half their normal crowds come in the doors.

“I’d be crazy to say we weren’t nervous,” said Lamont Love, owner of Blaq Lyte Tattoo in the University area.

COVID-19 shuttered his business for months.

Love said the only way he survived was that he squirreled away money just in case something happened.

When it did, he was able to survive it.

Love said that when the restrictions started coming off, the customers started coming back.

“Actually, it was pretty busy for us at first. It seemed like people just wanted to get out,” Love said.

Love said even though he can now fill his shop with customers, he’s still going to be careful and hold down the numbers of people who can come in.

COVID is still out there.

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