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Face masks will be mandatory in North Carolina: What you need to know

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, June 26, face masks will be required in all public spaces in North Carolina to comply with Governor Cooper's executive order.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has announced face masks are now mandatory in public places and the state will remain in a Safer-At-Home Phase 2 order for an additional 3 weeks. The Executive Order mandating masks goes into effect Friday, June 26 at 5 p.m.

Cooper said growing evidence shows cloth face coverings, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread the COVID-19 coronavirus, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. 

Until now, face coverings had been strongly recommended but not legally required. Under the new executive order, people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible. 

In addition, certain businesses must have employees and customers wear face coverings, including but not limited to: retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming. 

Click here for the full list.

“Wearing a face covering is an easy thing to do that can make a huge impact for all of us. A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow healthcare providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come,” said Dennis Taylor, a nurse, and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association. 

Gov. Cooper said there are a few exceptions to this face mask rule, which include: 

  • people with medical conditions
  • children under 11
  • people who are at home 
  • people who are walking and others otherwise exercising outside when not within six feet of others. 
  • North Carolina will also continue the Safer at Home Phase 2 for another two weeks, until July 17.

"I've been clear that data and science would lead the way in following that standard," Cooper said. "It's clear that our numbers will keep us from moving ahead into the next phase of easing restrictions." 

Cooper's decision to "pause" further reopenings and continue Phase 2 until July 17 means businesses hoping to reopen in Phase 3 will need to wait longer.

"We hope to be able to ease restrictions on playgrounds, museums and gyms on July 17, when this order expires," Cooper said. I know this virus has been very difficult for business owners who are anxious to open their doors."

Cooper has previously vetoed bills that would have allowed bars, gyms, and fitness clubs to reopen earlier than Phase 3.

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Some businesses had already begun preparations to reopen. The standing Phase 2 order was previously set to expire at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26.

Based on the metrics laid out in April by Governor Cooper and Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina is evaluating a combination of the data from the following categories that shows the indicators moving in the wrong direction. Officials cite these statistics as the reasoning behind pausing in Phase 2.

North Carolina reported more than 1,700 new COVID-19 coronavirus cases Wednesday; that is 47 cases shy of the state's record daily increase set up on June 12.

Hospitalizations backed off yesterday's high and remain above 900.

The positive test rate is still averaging around 9% over the last 14 days. That was the key factor Wednesday in having North Carolina and seven other states listed among restrictions in the New York tri-state area. Visitors from states where positive results from testing were averaging at 10% or greater would be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

Dr. Fauci testified before Congress Tuesday and said that North Carolina could see an "insidious increase in community spread, which will be much more difficult to contain as community spread amplifies itself." 

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Cooper had faced pressure from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and Mecklenburg County commissioners, who are calling to make face masks mandatory in public mandatory.

During Monday's Charlotte City Council meeting, Lyles and other city leaders shared the desire to make masks mandatory in public areas

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