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COVID-19, Economy Top Legislators’ Agenda

NEWPORT, NC (Coastal Review Online) - The North Carolina General Assembly returns this week with a focus on pressing needs like protective supplies for medical workers and more aid to deal with coronavirus testing and infections, but also with an eye on the future amid a rapidly heating debate over when and how to phase out business shutdowns and stay-at-home requirements.

While the governor has received mostly broad support on his handling of the crisis from legislators, going into this week’s session some who represent areas of the state dependent on tourism said they’re worried that the administration is being overly cautious and should be willing to loosen restrictions in areas where infection rates are low.

On the other end of the state, Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Henderson, said reopening bars and restaurants is a critical part of serving the tourist trade. Downtowns in his district are “ghost towns,” he said, and many businesses won’t survive a prolonged shutdown.

Edwards said the governor’s plan is too vague and that businesses need greater certainty about when they could reopen.

“It’s unfortunate to say that they’re going to be businesses that are not going to make it, but let’s be real. This is a devastating crisis and some folks are not going to survive.”