How will the mask mandate be enforced?

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- North Carolina’s mandatory mask requirement now requires people to wear them outside or inside of a business, unless you have a medical exception.

But, that order is raising questions among some legal experts about how the mandate will be enforced, especially if you own a business.

The signs saying masks must be worn to gain entry are now everywhere in stores across the area.

The governor says the mandate is necessary for everyone’s health.

“Overwhelming evidence growing by the week shows wearing a face covering greatly reduces the spread of COVID-19, especially from people who have it but don’t know it yet,” said Governor Roy Cooper.

When it comes to being told by stores to wear a mask or no entry, it makes sense to some customers.

“I really think it’s a good thing,’’ said Angela Allen. “It’s the first time I noticed it on a store door alerting the public that if you don’t have a mask you can’t enter because you are putting others at risk.”

But, the governor’s executive order raises concerns among some who say it forces businesses to become the ‘’mask police”.

Attorney Jeanette Doran, who is the President of the NC Institute for Constitutional Law, said the order specifies that law enforcement is not authorized to criminally enforce the face covering order.

She said that creates liability for a business.

“It certainly opens the door to a wide variety of litigation,” Doran said. “What’s the employer’s responsibility?  Is he going to get sued by his employee? Is he going to get sued by a customer?  That’s a big problem.”

Doran believes the signs telling customers they can’t enter without a mask don’t offer a business owner legal protection, unlike signs which proclaim things like no shirt/no shoes/no service.

“There are a couple of ways they are different,” Doran said.  “A lot of those requirements come from established law that’s well known and has gone through the traditional law making process.”

Prior to the governor’s mask mandate, some local governments issued their own mask orders.

“Some of the things that concern me are the inconsistencies between local government orders and the governor’s order–for example the age cutoff,” she said.

Doran predicts a number of legal challenges to the governor’s mask mandate, even if face coverings are effective in slowing the spread of the disease.

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