Raceway defies North Carolina governor, hosts another crowd despite coronavirus warnings

State may have to step in, the governor said

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A North Carolina speedway criticized by Gov. Roy Cooper for drawing crowds in violation of his executive order held more races outside on Saturday despite a warning from the county sheriff, local news reported.

Ace Speedway in Alamance County was open to spectators on Saturday even after Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson asked its owners to cancel the event, The Times-News reported. FOX Business' inquiries to Ace Speedway and Alamance County were not immediately returned.

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Cooper, a Democrat, criticized Alamance County and Ace Speedway after its May 23 season opener for putting people in danger of contracting coronavirus. The May 23 race had 2,550 spectators, approximately 50 percent of fire capacity, the county said.

"That is a dangerous situation that ought to concern all the local officials. ... If you have local law enforcement officials who won't enforce the order, then I think the state has to look at other options, and that is what we'll do," Cooper said at a press briefing on Thursday.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services "repeatedly" told Ace Speedway to adhere to a 25-spectator limit per Cooper's executive order, a NCDHHS spokesperson told FOX Business.

"Other tracks and NASCAR have partnered with NCDHHS and held successful events without fans and without defying the Executive Order," the spokesperson said.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper listens to a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

Meanwhile, Cooper has come under fire for inconsistent rules for businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican running for governor this year, said on Tuesday that Cooper's arbitrary rules have entrepreneurs hurting and confused. For example, restaurants are open but bars remain closed, and most North Carolinians have no access to a gym.

"What you're seeing from the average business folks out there is that politicians end up making these random selections of decisions that really impact their business, and they don't understand why," Forest told FOX Business' Stuart Varney. "It's not based obviously on science and data."

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