Mask FAQ: What you need to know about NC’s mask mandate

Confusion cleared up over mask mandate

NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order requiring face masks be worn in public went into effect Friday, and the announcement has generated no shortage of questions from the public.

Between social media, calls and emails into the newsroom, WECT has fielded dozens of these questions over just a few days.

Where do I have to wear a mask?

  • Retail stores.
  • Restaurants. You may take off your mask while sitting at your table.
  • Personal care (salons, tattoo parlors, etc.) If you’re receiving a facial treatment of some sort, you may take off the mask.
  • Child care facilities, day camps, and overnight camps.
  • State government buildings.
  • In transportation. Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina, as well as people in airports, bus, train stations and stops must wear face coverings. This does not apply to those traveling alone with household members or friends in their personal vehicles.
  • Any place where social distancing is difficult. This includes manufacturing settings, construction sites, farms or other agricultural settings.
  • Inside meat or poultry processing plants.
  • Long-term and health care facilities.

What are the exceptions?

The governor’s executive order does not require face masks for an employee, customer, or patron who:

  • Has a medical or behavioral condition or disability.
  • Those under 11-years-old.
  • Someone who is actively eating or drinking.
  • Someone who is exercising.
  • While trying to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired and needs the mouth to be visible.
  • If you’re working from home or in a vehicle.
  • If you’re temporarily removing your mask for identification purposes.
  • Would be at risk for wearing a face covering, as determined by local, state or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines.
  • If the masks makes is difficult to operate equipment or a vehicle.
  • A child whose guardian is unable to put the mask safely on the child’s face.

How is the mask mandate enforced?

Businesses can be cited for not requiring customers to wear masks. Under the executive order, all North Carolinians will be on the honor system about whether or not they have a reason they cannot wear a face mask. Business owners and employees have to rely on the customer when it comes to their reason why they’re not wearing a mask.

Law enforcement cannot criminally enforce the mask mandate against individual workers, customers, or patrons. But if a person, employee or customer, refuses to wear a mask and refuses to leave the business, law enforcement can enforce trespassing laws to that person.

Some businesses in Wilmington say they are encouraging customers to wear masks, rather than enforcing.

”We certainly do not want to turn down a sale for someone not coming in nor do we want to be the police, per say, of you can’t come in here because you don’t have one,” said Lisa Larue the owner of Heart of Carolina at the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington. “Nor have I had anyone come in without one, so I haven’t been put in that position.”

But other store owners fear not having customers wear masks could lead to more outbreaks-- essentially killing their business.

“We want to follow the regulations from the governor and our governor in general,” said Margot Beberaggi-Stevens the manager of The Black Cat Shoppe. “They’re set in place for a reason. We cannot afford to go back into phase one or go into quarantine lockdown again. I don’t know if we would survive.”

Dr. Paul Kamitsuka with New Hanover Regional Medical Center says wearing masks is so important. He says the right thing to do is wear a mask because it’s a source of control.

“I think it’s a small request to ask of everybody to wear a mask, because we know that that’s going to help mitigate this virus,” said Dr. Kamitsuka. “That’s the one weapon that we have. And most of the countries that have been doing a good job of containing this virus have been using that to to to great effect, and we need to get on board.”

To read the executive order in its entirety, click here.

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