NC Lt. Gov. Forest challenges Gov. Cooper’s authority to close restaurants

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina’s lieutenant governor is challenging Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to close restaurants across the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) said Cooper announced his intention to close the restaurants in a press release Tuesday morning. A move Forest said would devastate the state’s economy.

“After the press release, and shortly before a scheduled press conference, I, along with other Council of State members, was asked to concur with the Governor’s decision with no discussion,” Forest said.

The lt. governor said Cooper (D) went ahead with this announcement to close restaurants “even after a majority of the Council of State voted not to concur with the Governor.”

Forest said this vote prevents Cooper from issuing that part of his executive order.

“While I understand that all actions in a time of crisis are very difficult decisions and have many consequences, some decisions are so serious they require, by law, discussion with, and approval of, other state leaders,” Forest said.

Sadie Weiner, spokeswoman for Cooper, said Forest is creating a chaotic situation by challenging the governor.

“It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another to create a chaotic situation in the middle of a pandemic. The Governor is taking action to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians and does not need concurrence. The Governor and the Secretary of DHHS have the authority to do this under state public health and emergency powers law,” Weiner said.

The governor declared a state of emergency on March 10. Part of that declaration allows government officials to take extra measures to protect the public health and safety, the Department of Public Safety said.

“Declarations will include a description of the geographical area covered and can include lists of prohibitions and restrictions on certain activities to promote public safety,” NCDPS said.

Cooper’s executive order still allows takeout and delivery. The order also expands unemployment benefits for those affected by the pandemic.

Related: Cooper’s executive order expands unemployment benefits to North Carolinians

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