Another day, another WTF moment from the anti-lockdown demonstrations.
As reported by TMZ on Saturday, about a dozen protesters were spotted inside a Subway sandwich shop chowing down and browsing the menu, all the while holding firearms. The bizarre scene was captured by News & Observer photojournalist Travis Long at a Subway location in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.
But it gets a little stranger. Shortly after the photos were posted to social media, a number of users pointed out that some of the protesters' weapons were seemingly fake. Long confirmed the speculation, stating that the AT4 in the top left picture was inert, which means it could be a fake, a replica, or weapon that had been fired before, while the .50 caliber rifle in the bottom left picture was reportedly made from wood.
Anti-lockdown demonstrators have taken to state capitals over the past month, demanding officials reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper launched "phase 1" of his three-part reopening plan on Friday. The order permits non-essential retail stores to resume operations with social distancing measures in place. State parks have also reopened with limited access.
Schools, salons, and gyms remain closed, while restaurants are only open for takeout and delivery. Gov. Cooper announced the plan is for phase 1 to conclude on May 22.
"We think this is a prudent, careful, cautious step that we should make," Cooper said during a Friday press conference, as reported by WBTV. "We are going to continue to rely on the evidence and data in order to make decisions on when we move on to Phase 2."
North Carolina has reported more than 14,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 545 deaths as of Saturday.