Happening Today: Gov. Cooper lifting outdoor mask mandate, increasing gathering limits

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 12:30 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order on Wednesday that outlined revised safety measures that will be in place in North Carolina beginning on Friday.

Under the new executive order, masks will still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks are still strongly recommended outdoors by NCDHHS in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult.

Executive Order No. 209 will also increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

These revised requirements will go into effect at 5 p.m.

Cooper still plans to lift most of the pandemic-related restrictions by June 1, while keeping the indoor mask mandate in place.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, added that she hopes to go even further, with possibly lifting the mask mandate completely and lighten other public health recommendations if the state meets its goal of two-thirds of adults having had at least one vaccine shot and key virus-related metrics continuing to remain stable.

“When will that happen, though, is up to North Carolinians and how quickly people get vaccinated,” Cohen said. “Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone. They are free and widely available across the state. In many places you don’t need appointment. All three vaccines are tested, safe, and effective.”

To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses with 48.7 percent of those 18 and up being partially vaccinated, and 39.2 percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” said Cooper. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”

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