'Wear masks:' Fayetteville mayor urges people going to Trump rally Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- President Donald Trump will return to North Carolina this weekend to campaign in Fayetteville.

Officials with President Trump's campaign said a "Great American Comeback Event" will be held Sept. 19 at Fayetteville Regional Airport.

Organizers remain tight-lipped about the event's specifics, but they said they are expecting it to draw thousands of people to the area.

"We're an important swing state," Mayor Mitch Colvin said. "Fayetteville is front and center of a lot of these campaigns. (This is) Not the first presidential visit, and we know how to handle that."

Doors for the event will open at 3 p.m. It officially begins at 6:30 p.m.

The president recently campaigned in Winston-Salem and visited Wilmington to honor WWII veterans.

His campaign events have been a source of debate as they have not adhered to social distancing guidelines and not required (although they have encouraged) attendees to wear masks.

The same is expected this weekend, although Colvin said he encourages everybody attending the event to wear a mask and stay socially distant.

"I just encourage those who attend this to wear masks and stay socially distanced. Be responsible, because they have to return back into our community."

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the outdoor gathering maximum people restrictions in effect with Gov. Roy Cooper's current Executive Order do not allow for enforcement when it comes to events related to First Amendment rights--such as protests or political rallies.

Still, Cohen said masks and social distancing were things that all leaders should be requiring in order to protect North Carolinians.

"While there may be an exemption for First Amendment rights and political rallies, this isn't about mandates, this is about about leadership," Cohen said Tuesday. "I want to see more leadership from all of our elected officials in making sure that we are protecting North Carolinians. We know what works: masks work, social distancing works. So when I see gatherings close together with no masks, that's not respecting the hard work that North Carolinians have been doing over the last number of months. That's not protecting North Carolina. So while they may have an exemption from the executive orders and mandates, it's not about mandates, it's about leadership. And it's about respecting North Carolina and protecting North Carolina. So I hope everyone will be wearing masks and be socially distanced but still participate in any political activities."

RELATED: President Donald Trump visits Winston-Salem after trading jabs with opponent Joe Biden

This will be President Trump's 14th visit to North Carolina during his term and third visit in September.
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