Fayetteville mask mandate is lifted but Cumberland County order remains in effect

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Fayetteville's mask mandate was lifted Monday, though Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green says masks are still required to be worn in the city.

"My Public Health (Nuisance) Abatement Order is still in place, which applies to the city of Fayetteville. So in effect, if you go into a business or a public space, you are required to wear a mask indoors when you're in a public setting," said Dr. Green.

The diverging policies are based off viewing different metrics. In an interview Saturday with ABC11, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin pointed to decreasing hospitalizations and ICU patients, as well as improved hospital capacity, as reasons why he would rescind the order.

"Personally, I'll still wear a mask and ask everyone to do that at their own discretion, but this is not something that the government has to mandate," he said.

However, the county refers to CDC guidance, which weighs case and positivity rate. According to the CDC, Cumberland County's case rate per 100,000 people is 222; the CDC defines an area of high transmission has 100 or more cases per 100,000 people. The county's seven-day case positivity rate is 9.5%; the CDC defines an area of substantial transmission to be between 8-9.99% positivity rate.

Based off those figures, federal guidance states that everyone "should wear a mask in public, indoor settings."

"We know that the hospitalizations are declining and that is a good thing. We want to see those downward trends continue. But we are cautiously optimistic about that, because we don't want to lift those restrictions too early, especially as we move into this holiday season," said Dr. Green.

In a statement, Cumberland County Attorney Rick Moorefield discussed the scope of the Public Health Nuisance Abatement Order:

Dr. Green's Public Health Nuisance Abatement Order requiring masks in indoor public spaces applies to every indoor public space in Cumberland County, regardless of whether it is in any municipality. Only Dr. Green can rescind her order. It does not have a criminal penalty and is not enforceable by law enforcement. It is enforceable by a civil court process against a specific violator.

Reaction to whether the mandates should remain in place were mixed, with some believing they should be lifted and others planning to keep it in place.

"I'm okay with it not being in place. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And if they feel as though they want to wear a mask, then they should," said Dana Jordan, who works and lives in Fayetteville.

Jordan, who is not vaccinated, said she has no issue wearing a mask to make clients feel comfortable.

Yousof Hamouda, manager at The Downtown Deli on Hay Street, says he hasn't faced pushback from customers over masking.

"Your safety first. Your safety is my safety," said Hamouda.

If restrictions remain in place, Hamouda believes businesses should be prepared to offer customers masks, though he highlighted to another metric that puts him at ease.

"A (lot) of people (are) vaccinated and we feel more comfortable," Hamouda noted.

Off-camera, one owner said the mandates should remain in place, noting that young children are not yet able to get vaccinated, while a restauranteur disagreed with the need for the restrictions.
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