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Masks required

North Carolina Governor issues order for masks starting Friday

NORTH CAROLINA—Facemasks will now be required outside the home in North Carolina.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring masks beginning on Friday in public when it is impossible to be physically distant from others.

Cooper also extended the phase 2 restrictions through July 17. The phase 2 restrictions were originally through June 23.

Phase 2 restricts the number of people who can gather together to 25 or less outside and 10 or less inside as well as restricting businesses such as bars and gyms to reopen.

Cooper said his decision came after a recent increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

He said on Wednesday that hospital capacity can be overwhelmed in the blink of an eye and once that capacity is gone, it could be too late to turn the tide.

North Carolina has recently had several days of record-breaking hospitalizations for COVID-19.

North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said Wednesday that laboratories that test for COVID-19 are seeing shortages of lab supplies.

She said that is a concern and if left unchecked, the virus will continue to spread.

“Face coverings only fully work if we all do it,” Cohen said.

As of Thursday morning, there were 906 people hospitalized from COVID-19 in North Carolina, which is up from 587 a month ago.

The new executive order concerning masks includes that face coverings are required anywhere someone cannot be physically distant from people outside their household. The masks apply to anyone 11 years old or older.

Exceptions to the rule include if a person is actively eating or drinking, exercising strenuously or has a medical or behavioral condition that prevents wearing a mask.

Enforcement will be up to the businesses. If a business allows patrons to go without masks, local law enforcement can cite the business with a misdemeanor. Businesses can also refuse to allow people in without masks and call law enforcement to remove them for trespassing if they refuse.