Downtown Wilmington businesses ready for new executive order

New mask rules in place, affecting businesses

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper’s new executive order requiring everyone to wear facemasks in public places and indoors, even at home if anyone there does not live in the same household, went into effect on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

It’s already bringing changes to small businesses like Cape Fear Spice Merchants in downtown Wilmington.

“It does make it a bit different when you have multiple groups come in,” said employee Andrea Davis. “And sometimes you don’t know if they came in together or if they’re separate groups. And if one person doesn’t have a mask on, you’ll have to politely state that the new mandate says that you have to have one.”

At Edge of Urge downtown, workers are taking it one step further. Since reopening in October, they have made mask-wearing a priority.

“We have a sign that says, ‘please wait to be let in,’” said manager Jess Oxendine. “So, we’ll come up and ask people to make sure they have their mask on and to use hand sanitizer.”

The night before Thanksgiving has traditionally been a busy one for restaurants and bars in downtown Wilmington. Husk owner Justin Smith believes the pandemic restrictions will make a difference.

“It’s different,” said Smith. “But I guess it’s no different than the rest of 2020 has been. I’m actually interested to see...with COVID restrictions and having to close at 11...I feel this day will always be a busier-than-normal weekday night, but I don’t expect it to reach weekend numbers.”

“It’s the same but a little different tonight,” said bar patron Christopher Fenell. “A lot less people out still see a lot of people out here having a good time celebrating the night before Thanksgiving and seeing friends.”

The governor’s new order is in effect until December 11.

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