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The Moore County Health Department is cracking down on restaurants and bars that may be serving patrons in outdoor seating areas or allowing them to sit there to eat or drink.

“Restaurant staff are not permitted to serve patrons indoors or in outdoor seating areas,” said a news release from the Health Department issued early Friday afternoon citing an order issued by the secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. “If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is not permitted.”

It says that “in light of new information regarding the presence of community spread” of coronavirus, the Health Department will enforce the more “stringent Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, which states that “seating areas of restaurants and bars constitute an imminent hazard” for the spread of the virus.

“Restaurants shall close all seating areas immediately and bars are directed to close immediately,” the release said. “Restaurants are restricted to carry-out, drive-through, and delivery to ensure food is available while maintaining social distancing.”

“Furthermore, all areas of North Carolina are subject to mass gathering restrictions and social distancing guidelines,” the release said.

Local law enforcement and district attorneys are generally responsible for enforcement of the order as well as Order of Abatement, the release said. A violation is a Class 2 misdemeanor under state law, it said.

“Failure to comply with the Order of Abatement … may result in injunctive relief against the establishment in question or prosecution for a misdemeanor offense,” the release said of the possibility of seeking a court order to stop that from happening.

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