Gov. Cooper announces stricter mask mandate as COVID-19 continues to spread

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stricter state-wide mask mandate on Monday that say North Carolinians must wear a mask at home when you have friends or family over to visit as well as wearing a mask at work, at the gym, at the store, and at school.

Cooper said his latest executive order makes it “clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with.”

Read Executive Order 180

“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today. We are in danger. This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many,” Cooper said.

According to the executive order, face covering must now be worn while exercising indoors, and outside within six feet on a person who doesn’t live in the same household.

The order also states masks must been worn by patrons at breweries and restaurants while they are sitting at their table, unless actively eating or drinking.

Law enforcement can cite people and businesses who don’t follow the executive order regarding face coverings.

Cooper said wearing a mask is the best way to help slow the spread.

“Everyone needs to wear a mask whenever you are with someone you don’t live with. That means wearing a mask at home when you have friends or family over to visit. It means a mask at work, at the gym, at the store, at school,” said Cooper.

The new executive order also requires businesses with more than 15,000-square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask-wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

“This order also strengthens the role of businesses in ensuring masks are worn by everyone in the store, staff and customers, and that they are abiding by capacity limits so that people can stay distant and can stay safe,” the governor said.

The new executive order also requires businesses with more than 15,000-square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

The restrictions will remain in place through at least Dec. 11.

Previously, several local governments and police departments tell CBS 17 they’ve been focused on “education” of the executive orders rather than enforcement.

Cooper hopes to get more local governments to “ratchet up” their enforcement.  He said he will consider moving backward with restrictions if there isn’t more compliance with current guidelines and metrics continue to worsen.”We will do what we need to do to protect the health and safety of our North Carolinians,” he said.

Cooper pointed to the mayor of Greensboro using more city employees to enforce guidelines, not only relying on police.  The mayor says businesses are charged $100 for each person over the permitted capacity, and if they don’t enforce the mask mandate.

Cooper said the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated its County Alert System map earlier than originally scheduled due to the increase in cases. The map was originally intended to be updated every four weeks.

It was updated after just one week.

“This week you’ll see that 10 more counties have been designated as red, indicating critically high levels of community spread. We now have 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. This is deadly serious,” Cooper said.

Cooper’s announcement comes as North Carolina has 1,601 patients hospitalized in related to the virus – a record for the state.

Dr. Mandy Cohen said she is particularly concerned with this number.

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