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VERIFY: Yes, it is legal to mandate masks at places of worship

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted 5 to 4 in favor of the mandate for religious gatherings.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

THE QUESTION

Is it legal to mandate masks at places of worship?

SOURCES

THE ANSWER

Yes, it is legal to mandate masks at places of worship.

WHAT WE FOUND

Previously, religious activities were exempt from the county's mask mandate, which went into effect on Aug. 31.

However, this week, Mecklenburg County commissioners voted 5 to 4 in favor of the mandate for religious gatherings.

Last month, NCDHHS' Interim Guidance for Places of Worship and Religious Services stated that Places of worship are strongly recommended to: 

  • Have all staff, volunteers, and congregants that are not fully vaccinated wear a face covering when they are indoors and maintain physical distance from others
  • Have all staff, volunteers, and congregants, including those fully vaccinated, wear a face covering when they are in indoors in counties of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC. 

RELATED: Are Charlotte-area private schools taking mask mandates seriously?

According to the CDC, Mecklenburg County does have high levels of transmission of COVID-19.

In May of 2020, a federal judge struck down part of an executive order from Governor Cooper that prohibited indoor religious gatherings with more than 10 people in attendance. 

However, commissioner Rodriguez-McDowell said the mask mandate does not put a limit on people worshipping the way governor cooper's previous rule did.

"Wearing a mask doesn't stop anyone from worshipping, doesn't hinder anyone from worshipping and so I feel like that's a conflation that isn't proper so I support this amendment in support of public health," commissioner Rodriguez-McDowell said.

The amended mask mandate, including religious or worship ceremonies, will take effect 10 days after the rule is officially posted.

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.