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Huntersville mayor questions Mecklenburg County mask mandate

In a letter obtained by WCNC Charlotte, Mayor John Aneralla asks the county to provide the rationale for how the rule meets state requirements.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla is questioning Mecklenburg County's mask mandate, which goes into effect on Aug. 31.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County delays start of new mask mandate

A mask mandate for indoor, public spaces took effect in the City of Charlotte and parts of unincorporated Mecklenburg County on Aug. 18, and expands to the rest of the county by the end of the month. County commissioners met to expand the mandate, passing with a 6-2 majority. 

In a letter obtained by WCNC Charlotte dated Aug. 26, Aneralla asked the county to provide the rationale for how the rule meets state requirements. 

RELATED: Mecklenburg County health leaders update mask mandate to include all schools | MACS issues letter to parents enforcing mandate

In the letter, Aneralla says in order for the Mecklenburg County Board of Health to enforce "more stringent" health rules in the area than those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the board must supply particular circumstances warranting the standards locally. 

"The health rule proposed by Mecklenburg County Board of Health on August 18th, 2021 includes various percentages regarding the rise in positive COVID-19 cases within Mecklenburg County, but does not include the source of the data," the letter reads, in part. "Nor does the proposed rule include any comparative data from other North Carolina communities sufficient to support a finding that a more stringent health rule is necessary within Mecklenburg County as compared to other jurisdictions within the state. Lacking such justification, proposed rules are not legally permissible and are preempted by the state regulations." 

Aneralla also says in the letter that the board must meet the requirements of the Peedin test to determine the validity of the rules, calling on the board to prove the rules are: related to the promotion or protection of health, reasonable in light of health risk, not in violation of laws or constitutional provisions, not discriminatory, and not based on policy concerns usually reserved for legislative bodies. 

The mayor says he hopes for transparency, the county board proves its mask mandate meets state requirements and the Peedin test. 

In a news conference on Thursday, Aneralla confirmed Huntersville will abide by the mandate, but still had questions for Mecklenburg County Public Health and county leaders. He said the only person he heard back from was Pat Cotham, a county commissioner who voted against the mask mandate.

Aneralla said the questions he had included the reasoning behind the mandate, such as if the conditions in Mecklenburg County were worse than the rest of North Carolina. He claimed Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles was the only one really consulted by county leaders and that other mayors' authority had been usurped by the mandate.

Aneralla also said other mayors like him were given no information. He noted some people had grown upset with his letter and said those critics were only focused on the issue of masks. He said throughout 2020, Huntersville's leaders aligned with orders and guidance from Gov. Roy Cooper.

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