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State Supreme Court ruling re-closes North Carolina bowling alleys

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(The Center Square) – Bowling alleys in North Carolina will have to close again after being allowed to open last week.

The North Carolina Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Wake County Superior Court judge’s preliminary injunction that allowed bowling alleys to reopen and overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order keeping them closed.

Cooper has kept bowling alleys, skating rinks, bars and other entertainment venues shuttered during the current phase of COVID-19 restrictions because they present a higher risk for the spread of coronavirus since it is challenging to follow social distancing rules in them, he said.

“In these places, people gather in close proximity, are indoors with recirculating air, stay in the space for extended period of time, and engage in physical exertion,” Cooper said.

The North Carolina Bowling Proprietors Association has sued Cooper, claiming he does not have the right to continue to issue emergency executive orders under the North Carolina Emergency Management Act. The lawsuit argues the Emergency Management Act is unconstitutional as presently applied.

A Wake County judge granted a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit last week, allowing the bowling alleys to resume operations. The judge said there was no reasonable basis to treat bowling alleys any differently than businesses that were allowed to reopen.

Cooper filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court. He said opening bowling alleys upends his effort to reopen schools as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.

Cooper also has blocked the General Assembly’s attempt to reverse his order. The governor vetoed Senate Bill 599 on July 2, which would have opened bowling alleys and skating rinks.

The North Carolina Bowling Proprietors Association could not be reached for comment.

Cooper was scheduled to announce his plan for reopening schools Tuesday afternoon.

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