An executive order requiring face coverings in public for all North Carolinians is set to go into effect Friday at 5 p.m. As COVID-19 cases and trends continue to rise, the governor says the measure is necessary to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

Where does this apply?

The order states that people are required to wear a face covering in public, both indoors and outdoors, when social distancing is not possible. It applies in retail businesses, restaurants, barbershops, child care facilities, summer camps, meat processing plants, and all public transportation — any public space indoor or outdoor where you can't stay six feet apart from others. 

Is anyone exempt from the mandate?

Yes. Exceptions include children 11 years old and younger, anyone who has a medical or behavioral condition that affects their breathing, and people who are unable to put on or remove a face covering without assistance. If you are actively eating or drinking, giving a speech or broadcast to an audience, or “strenuously exercising,” a mask is not required. According to the state, you do NOT have to provide proof of this exception. A full list of exceptions can be found on the NCDHHS website

How does the state define a face covering?

A face covering is any material that covers both the nose and mouth. The state does not require it to be made of a specific fabric or have a particular design. It's recommended to be at least two layers thick and can be homemade.

How will this be enforced?

Much of the enforcement work will fall on businesses. Police can issue citations to businesses or organizations that are not abiding by the requirement. That could include employees who are not wearing face coverings, for example.

Why now? Why not sooner?

When he announced the mandate on Wednesday, Governor Cooper emphasized that the decisions he's made about COVID-19 have always been evidence-based, and he said they now have the data showing the effectiveness of masks at slowing the spread of the virus. He also said this is what's necessary in order to move forward in removing restrictions.   

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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