Businesses could be shut down in Orange County if they don’t comply with its new mask mandate

Orange County News

ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) — Orange County’s new mask mandate requires everyone ages two and older to wear a mask in all indoor public places due to the rise in North Carolina’s COVID-19 cases.

The mandate went into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Some business leaders say they’re looking for guidance on how to enforce this mandate.

“They’re usually pretty good about, within the next day or so, of rolling out these mandates, about sending someone from the city down the street to talk to each vendor or store owner,” said Brandon Kendall, the district manager of Smoke Rings Smoke Shop. 

Scott Maitland, the owner of Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery in Chapel Hill, said he’s all-in on the mask mandate.

“Just as a restaurant team, we’ve been monitoring this and we saw this being the logical next step,” he said. “I hope everything is focused on the idea that we don’t want to overrun our hospitals again. So, I think the masks can help mitigate that.”

Additionally, Orange County spokesperson Todd McGee said if a business refuses to enforce the order, the county’s environmental health department will reach out to that business and explain why the county has put the mandate into effect and why it needs to be followed. If nothing changes, and the business doesn’t comply, the health department could take steps to shut down the business.

Furthermore, if a customer won’t follow the rules, they can also be held accountable by local police, McGee said.

“If a business asks a customer who is not wearing a mask to leave, and the customer refuses, then yes, they can be cited for trespassing,” McGee said.

Kendall said his store is taking extra precautions to continue to keep people safe.

“’We have floor markers to make sure when people are waiting in line aren’t standing too congested and close. Just trying to keep the environment as safe as possible for employees and customers,” he said.

CBS 17 asked Orange County, and fellow Chapel Hill leaders, what kinds of penalties could come with a trespassing citation that could be issued to individuals.

Both said our question was a legal one and they were unable to comment. However, a spokesperson for the Town of Hillsborough said it could lead to a court date.

“My hope as a restaurant owner and as a Carolina fan, if we want to have a football season, go do the things we need to do,” Maitland said.

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