RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday issued a mandatory mask requirement across North Carolina and ordered a "pause" on easing any other restrictions as infections rates and the number of hospitalizations continue to climb.
The mask mandate will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
Cooper, during the announcement, reiterated his vow to follow the science and trends and expressed hope that mandating all North Carolinians to wear a face-covering could "stabilize" the spread of the coronavirus and enable the state to move into the next phase of reopening.
The "Safer At Home" Executive Order, signed May 22, allowed restaurants, barbershops and salons, among other personal care businesses, to open with capacity restrictions. The order, which was due to expire on June 26, will now be in effect through the July 4 holiday and expire July 17.
Cooper, a Democrat, has twice vetoed proposed legislation that would allow gyms, fitness clubs and bars to open. A bill passed this week, which would allow July 4 parades and festivals to go on as planned, is expected to meet the same fate.
Wearing face coverings has long been a part of what officials have dubbed "The Three W's", in addition to washing hands and waiting six feet apart. The new order now makes at least one part of that a statutory requirement, and follows mandates put in place in other cities like Raleigh and Durham.
The Governor's mask mandate will be enforceable; retail stores, supermarkets, construction sites, manufacturing plants, meat processing facilities, personal care businesses and restaurants will all be susceptible to citations and other penalties if all employees--and their customers--are not wearing a face covering.
Law enforcement can also use trespassing laws to help businesses enforce the requirement when customers refuse to wear a mask.
There will be exceptions including children under 11 and people with certain medical conditions.
What does a "face covering" mean? A covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is simply wrapped around the lower face. A Face Covering can be made of a variety of synthetic and natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen. Ideally, a Face Covering has two (2) or more layers. A Face Covering may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, bandanas, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels. These Face Coverings are not intended for use by healthcare providers in the care of patients.
When are they required?
In Retail Businesses. Retail Businesses must have all workers wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person. In addition, Retail Businesses must have all customers wear Face Coverings when they are inside the establishment and may be within ( 6) feet of another person, unless the customer states that an exception applies.
In Restaurants. Restaurants must have all workers wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person. In addition, restaurants must have all customers wear Face Coverings when not at their table, unless the customer states that an exception applies.
In Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses. Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses must have workers wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person. In addition, the business must have all customers wear Face Coverings when they are inside the establishment and may be within six (6) feet of another person, unless the customer states that an exception applies. Customers may take off their Face Coverings if they are receiving a facial treatment, shave, or other services on a part of the head which the Face Covering covers or by which the Face Covering is secured.
In Child Care Facilities, Day Camps, and Overnight Camps. Child care facilities, day camps, and overnight camps must have workers, all other adults, and children eleven (11) years or older on site wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person.
In State Government. State government agencies headed by members of the Governor's Cabinet must have their on-site workers wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six (6) feet of another person. Public-facing operations of state government agencies under the jurisdiction of the undersigned must also follow the requirements for Retail Businesses established in this Executive Order. All other state and local government agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt similar policies that require Face Coverings.
In Transportation. All workers and riders on public or private transportation regulated by the State ofNorth Carolina, as well as all people in North Carolina
airports, bus and train stations or stops, must wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person. This provision does not apply to people traveling alone with household members or friends in their personal vehicles, but does apply to ride-shares, cabs, vans, and shuttles, even if the vehicles are privately owned. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no customer will be removed from or denied entry to public transportation for failure to wear a Face Covering.
In Certain High-Density Occupational Settings Where Social Distancing is Difficult. Social distancing is inherently difficult where multiple workers are together in manufacturing settings, at construction sites, and in migrant farm, other farm, and agricultural settings. Therefore, in businesses or operations
within North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) sectors 311 to 339 (manufacturing), 236 to 238 (construction), and 111, 112, 1151, and 1152
(agriculture), all workers must wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six ( 6) feet of another person.
In Meat or Poultry Processing Plants. All workers in any meat or poultry processing plant, packing plant, or slaughterhouse must wear Face Coverings when they are or may be within six (6) feet of another person, and those Face Coverings must be Surgical Masks, as long as Surgical Mask supplies are
Long Term Care Facilities. All workers in Long Term Care Facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, adult care homes, family care homes, mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, must wear Face Coverings while in the facility, and those Face Coverings must be Surgical Masks, as long as Surgical Mask supplies are available.
Other Health Care Settings. Health care facilities other than LTC facilities must follow the Face Covering requirements in the CDC Infection Control
Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19).
A face covering does not need to be worn by anyone who:
Several posts have been circulating around social media stating that a person with a concealed gun permit could be charged with a Class H Felony if they're out in public wearing a mask and have their gun.
While it is true that persons concealing a handgun are normally not allowed to wear a mask or conceal their identity, that law was put on hold back in May when Gov. Roy Cooper and state leaders exempted the mask law in the name of public safety.