Face coverings will soon be mandatory in Moore County and across North Carolina.
The requirement is part of an executive order signed Wednesday by Gov. Roy Cooper. The order, which also extends Phase 2 of the state’s three-stage plan to ease coronavirus restrictions, takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday.
“Overwhelming evidence that is growing by the week shows that wearing a face covering can greatly reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it and don’t know it yet,” Cooper said during a news conference. “Face coverings are a simple way to control this virus while protecting ourselves, our families and the other people around us.”
People are required to wear face coverings in both outdoor and indoor settings. Some of the venues specifically mentioned in the order include retail businesses, restaurants, hair salons, meat processing plants, child care facilities, long-term care centers, airports and bus stations.
Law enforcers are authorized to issue citations to businesses and organizations that fail to comply with the mandate. If an employee or customer without a face covering enters a business and refuses to leave, they could be charged with trespassing.
The order contains exemptions for people with medical conditions and disabilities. Children younger than 11 and individuals who are “actively eating or drinking” are not required to wear face coverings.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, on Wednesday said infections and hospitalizations are on the rise. More than 56,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in North Carolina, and a record 915 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state on Tuesday.
“The numbers we see are a stark warning, and we must pay attention,” Cooper said. “I’m concerned. As we’ve watched and studied and dissected these numbers in recent weeks, that concern has grown.”
This story is developing.