Coronavirus: Trump threatens to move RNC from NC over COVID-19 restrictions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Donald Trump threatened Monday to move the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina because of restrictions imposed by Gov. Roy Cooper due to the health threat posed by the novel coronavirus.

In a series of tweets posted Monday morning, Trump said Cooper is “still in Shutdown mood” and unable to guarantee that crowds will be allowed to gather at RNC events later this year. The RNC is set to take place Aug. 24 through Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center.

“Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” Trump said. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.”

Trump said that if he is not given an answer, he will find another location for the convention.

“This is not something I want to do,” Trump said. “Thank you, and I love the people of North Carolina.”

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated Trump’s stance during an appearance Monday on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.”

“What you hear the president saying today is a very reasonable request of the governor of North Carolina -- we all want to be in Charlotte -- we love North Carolina -- but having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense prep that is involved (in launching the RNC),” Pence said. “We look forward to working with Gov. Cooper, getting a swift response and, if needs be … moving the national convention to a state that is farther along with reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”

Statewide, North Carolina was in its second phase Monday of reopening businesses shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants have been allowed to reopen for indoor dining and pools and personal care services were allowed to open to the public with restrictions to ensure social distancing measures continue.

It was not clear Monday when the third phase of reopening businesses will begin or what the third phase would look like.

As of Sunday, the last date for which data was available, 23,222 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina. Officials said at least 744 people have died from the virus.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.