CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You'll soon see more faces inside businesses, gyms, and other places in Mecklenburg County.
As of Saturday, you no longer will be required to wear a mask indoors in the county, unless a business still requires it on its own.
"We're moving to personal choice," Joe Kuhlmann, the co-owner and founder of The Evening Muse in NoDa, said.
The concert venue and bar chose to continue requiring masks even when the county health department rescinded the original mask mandate in 2021. Kuhlmann said with the atmosphere concerts bring, they wanted to keep everyone as safe and as healthy as possible.
Now, they believe the data is promising.
"I'm happy that we're getting to a place where statistically and health-wise, we're able to move out of it," Kuhlmann said.
Spectrum Center masking update
Hornets Sports & Entertainment updated its policies for fans attending games and events at Spectrum Center, starting with Saturday's Eric Church concert and Sunday’s Hornets game vs. Detroit.
Following Mecklenburg County’s decision to rescind the mask mandate for indoor venues effective Saturday, masks will no longer be required, but are recommended, for those in attendance.
Additionally, as has been required throughout the season by the NBA, fans sitting in areas within 15 feet of the court and the player benches will still need to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours.
With cases and hospitalizations dramatically dropping in the county, and the science showing masks were not as effective against the omicron variant, the county health department feels comfortable dropping the mandate.
"For the most part, I think people are pretty much over it," Charles Read, the owner of Queen City Craft and Gourmet near Ballantyne, said.
He welcomed the news and is looking forward to leaving it up to patrons and employees to decide if they want to wear a mask or not.
"It makes it more difficult for us to do our job," Read said. "Our customers can't see our smile and that we're delighted to have them here, we're grateful that they chose to visit our business."
There are places where you'll still have to mask up.
You still have to wear one on public buses and transportation, while in the airport and on an airplane, and when you're at the hospital, according to state and federal rules.