Raleigh City Council OKs mask requirement; timeline not announced

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C (WNCN) — Raleigh is moving forward with requiring masks in places where people are unable to social distance.

City council members approved the new measure Tuesday.

Often encouraged, face masks are not always worn by people in public. Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she witnessed it firsthand recently at the grocery store.

“Half the people there did not have masks on. It was very disconcerting,” said Baldwin.

She said apartment complexes and retail stores have reported people not wearing masks and not social distancing.

The mask requirement comes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise in our area.

“We need to set the standards and expectations,” said Baldwin.

The Raleigh City Council unanimously approved to allow the mayor to expand the state of emergency, adding an ordinance requiring face masks.

But, a timeline for when the new rule would go into effect has not been announced.

The city’s using similar ordinances in Orange and Durham counties for guidance. Officials from both counties said they’re enforcing orders through education. They have not cited anyone for not wearing a mask.

Raleigh doesn’t plan to have citations or police involved to enforce the ordinance.

“This would be one of those things, it’s a rule,” Baldwin said. “We would ask for compliance, but we’d enforce it with education, just as Durham and Orange County are doing.”

The city still needs to work out the details of when and where people will be required to wear masks.

Overall, they’ll be needed when social distancing isn’t possible, like in retail centers and transit.

Council member Corey Branch suggested finding ways to provide masks to people who don’t have access to them.

“We need to make sure that people are educated and are aware and we do some more community building around that,” said Branch.

The mayor said she’d like to work with Wake County on this but will move forward without them.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Ford released the following statement:

As the COVID-19 pandemic was unfolding back in March, the Wake County Board of Commissioners and all of Wake’s mayors were in unanimous agreement when we took quick and decisive action in issuing the emergency declaration and subsequent stay-at-home orders.

By statute, any mandatory mask order by Wake County would apply to just 17% of the county’s residents – those of us who live beyond the boundaries of Wake’s towns and cities. As in March, only with the unanimous consent of Wake’s mayors would such an order apply to the remaining 83% majority of Wake’s population living within the county’s municipal jurisdictions.

Wake’s 15 mayors are currently not in agreement in support of a countywide mask mandate. If Wake County were to issue a mask order without the support of all of our mayors, the inconsistent application and enforcement of that order across the county would likely result in a great deal of unnecessary public confusion and enforcement issues. Wake County will continue to remain engaged with federal, state and local officials – as well as with our towns and cities – to provide the residents of Wake County with the best guidance possible throughout this public health crisis.

It remains the position of Wake County that masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged in all circumstances where social distancing is not possible. Each of Wake’s municipalities has local authority to issue a mask order within its town or city limits. As the locally elected officials of the residents they represent, the mayors and town councils of those municipalities will continue to make decisions, which they believe are in the best interest of their fellow residents. I fully support Mayor Baldwin and the City Council’s action today to issue a mask order for the City of Raleigh and appreciate their decisive leadership in these challenging times.

Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Ford

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