Breaking News
More () »

With struggles to enforce orders, Mecklenburg County creates new ambassador program

Mecklenburg County leaders are creating a new program in hopes of getting more people to comply with the mask mandate and social distancing.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Mecklenburg County leaders are hoping a new ambassador program will bring more businesses and people into compliance when it comes to wearing masks and being socially distant. 

On Wednesday, County Manager Dena Diorio unveiled an enforcement task force, aimed at getting more people to follow several orders in place.

It's called an ambassador program, where people from the community will be hired part-time to be trained and then educate businesses on how to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing. 

The program comes after several commissioners voiced concerns with people not wearing masks, or abiding by the statewide mandate that is difficult to enforce. 

"Our community are begging for us to enforce," Commissioner Susan Harden said.

"People are scared. So that's what I'm getting in my emails," Commissioner and Vice-Chair Elaine Powell added. 

The statewide mask rule doesn't have strong enforcement language, so CMPD doesn't actively enforce it. 

The new program would work with businesses, educating them and giving them the tools they need to keep their patrons and staff healthy. 

Commissioner Pat Cotham called the program a positive step in the right direction. 

"I really have not had a lot of calls from our residents about enforcement," she said. "I have had many people call who want to be in compliance and have asked questions about how they can better their business to be in compliance."

Diorio said that is the primary goal: not to punish or penalize businesses, but to educate and gain voluntary action. 

However, CMPD does enforce the county's alcohol restriction, which shuts down restaurants that sell booze at 11 p.m., with the exception of takeout or delivery. 

So far, 217 of those businesses have been reported to CMPD for allegedly breaking the rule, according to Deputy Chief Jeff Estes. Twenty of them were given citations for failing to comply.

Still, some commissioners want more enforcement for all of the rules. 

"It can't be that we're sending this mixed message that you got to wear masks, but we're not really going to enforce it," Commissioner Trevor Fuller said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out