Face mask now required in Durham County, City stay-at-home order

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham City and County governments announced on Friday additional updates to the unified Durham Stay-At-Home Order.

The new guidelines require people to wear a clean face-covering any time they are or will be in contact with other people who are not household members in public or private spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, business location and public transit.

While face coverings are required, no one will be removed from or denied entry to public transit for failure to wear a face covering.

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Mayor Steve Schewel told ABC11 that social distancing is helping flatten the curve in Durham.

"If you're out walking and you're not in a crowd you don't need to wear a face covering, but if you're in the store, the pharmacy, the grocery where you're not able to socially distance that's when it's really, really important," he said.

When asked about people who may not feel comfortable with face coverings and unwanted attention that one might bring, Schewel said: "I get that the fear is there. But this is a situation where our whole society is doing the same thing together. I think that will really help."

County Commission Chair Wendy Jacobs said it's up to residents to hold themselves accountable.

"Most of our stay at home order is based on education and voluntary compliance. We are really relying on personal responsibility," she said. "We haven't been out there issuing tickets or citations or anything like that."

"Epidemiologists say one of the benefits of everybody wearing a face covering is that it becomes the norm," she added. "It becomes a situation where people who are not covering their face are the ones who look out of place.

According to the order, a face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or snaps or wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk or linens. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Implementation of the rules governing face coverings became effective on Monday, April 20 at midnight.

The updated order also included specific rules to support farmers markets and the ability to sell food and plants including details about market set up, use of handwashing stations, operation, closing and enforcement.

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Finally, the order provided updated information for realtors. Open houses and in-person showings of occupied homes are prohibited. In-person showings of vacant houses for sale or for rent are permitted under the following conditions:

1) The buyer's agent cannot enter the home with the prospective buyer(s); however, the agent can talk to the buyer during the showing from outside the home using cell phones and a video service;
2) Only one person can enter a home at a time for a showing. However, two people can enter at the same time if they have been socially distancing together;
3) There can be only one showing of the home during any calendar day;
4) Anyone entering a vacant home for a showing must wear a mask and gloves and must not touch surfaces inside the home to the greatest extent possible. Lights must be turned on and interior door opened prior to entry of the prospective buyer. The buyer's agent must provide hand sanitizer or sanitized wipes before and after entering the vacant home;
5) Anyone entering a home must assert, to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu; do not have a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms; have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19; and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for viewing the property at all times.
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