Police Chief speaks about new executive order updating pandemic restrictions

New mask mandate begins Wednesday, enforcement possible

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper’s new executive order updating pandemic restrictions goes into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.

It requires everyone to wear a mask when around someone they do not live with where six feet of distancing cannot be maintained and mandates retail stores larger than 15-thousand square feet to have an employee near the entrance to make sure masks are being worn.

“We believe, with these rules in place, that if we get more compliance and better enforcement,” said Cooper. “Then we can stem the tide without having to go backward with restrictions.”

Wrightsville Beach Police Chief David Squires says the new restrictions mean his officers might get called to help if a business or customer is not complying with the mandate.

“We are part of the team that enforces rules and supports public safety and public health by trying to focus on public education, seeking voluntary compliance and, when absolutely necessary, taking enforcement action,” said Squires.

Governor Cooper says the new order puts more responsibility on retailers to enforce the mandate requiring customers and employees to always wear masks. Chief Squires says his department will enforce the new mandate the same way they have the others in the past with education first and penalty as a last resort.

“We’re trying to get the word out to the business community that there’s been an update to the executive order,” said Squires. “When we encounter problems, we’re gonna talk them through...just like we have through all of the prior orders.”

Governor Cooper said his team will monitor the next seven to 14 days to see if the new restrictions are working. If they don’t help, he has not ruled out taking a step back in restrictions.

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