SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - In an effort to stop the community spread of COVID-19, Southport will require residents and visitors to wear face coverings while in public spaces.
Mayor Joe Pat Hatem announced that he was signing a revised state of emergency proclamation that requires anyone in city limits to wear a clean face-covering while in public spaces where it’s not possible to maintain social distancing.
“Someone had to do it. Someone has to step up. As I told someone, Southport has to lead in this. Especially because their mayor is a doctor. Just like when we had to make the decision about July 4 - we were one of the first cities to do so,” said Mayor Joe Pat Hatem. “This is going to be a new way of life for right now. Someone asked me ‘Are you going to put a time limit on it?' and I said no, we’re in the middle of it right now and until we have a vaccine, herd immunity, wearing a mask will be like wearing your seat belt.”
These public spaces, according to the proclamation, include grocery stores, pharmacies, business establishments, retail stores, parking lots, sidewalks, and public transit.
Additionally, Hatem said that all restaurant, personal care, grocer, retail employees, and staff will have to wear a face-covering while on duty.
The requirement began at 5 p.m. Monday.
“As your mayor, as a doctor, and as a public health advocate, I urge everyone to comply with the required wearing of protective facial covering as stated in our emergency proclamation,” Hatem stated.
Face coverings will not be required for the following:
- For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
- For those who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or behavioral condition.
- For children under 12 years of age.
- For restaurant patrons, while they are seated and dining.
- In private, individual offices.
- When complying with directions of law enforcement officers.
- In settings where it is not feasible to wear a face-covering such as receiving dental services or while swimming.
- While with members of a family or the same household.
Also, a face-covering won’t be required for individual exercise outdoors or while walking or exercising with other people from the same household as long as social distance from others is maintained.
“What we’re doing right now is we have a code enforcement officer and the police already going around trying to educate the public. That’s how we’re trying to do it right now. It’s a learning process. We feel like once its mandated, people will want to wear it,” said Hatem.