Mask mandates are set to begin in the City of Charlotte and unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Charlotte and Mecklenburg join other cities and counties around the state in issuing local mask rules for indoor areas as coronavirus cases spike again in North Carolina. Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide mask mandate expired last month.
Charlotte’s mayor and the Mecklenburg County leaders issued the emergency mask orders as county officials consider a separate public health rule that would require masks countywide.
Cases of the coronavirus are increasing across the state again, this time fueled by the more contagious delta variant, public health officials say.
“More than 1,000 of our friends and loved ones have died from COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County – and people continue to die,” Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said in a statement this week.
“One of the reasons we are doing this is that we are a community of families with children and we care deeply about the health of children as they begin school. We are also doing this to support the people who work in our city and this is a way for our businesses to remain open,” she said.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the new mask rules:
Where and when are masks required?
Masks are required in any indoor public area like grocery stores, restaurants and theaters. You do not have to wear a mask when actively eating or drinking.
The orders apply to the City of Charlotte and unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County.
Who is exempt?
According to the county, people do not need to wear a mask if:
- They are under 4 years old.
- They have “a medical or behavioral condition or disability” that prevents them from wearing a mask, such as trouble breathing, is unable to put on or take off a mask without help, or is incapacitated or unconsious.
- They are communicating with “with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible.”
- They are “giving a speech or performance for a broadcast, or to an audience, where they maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from the audience.”
- Their mask is getting in the way of visibility to safely operate a vehicle or equiment.
- They need to remove their mask for workplace safety.
“Anyone who declines to wear a Face Covering for any of these exemptions will not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition. Everyone is asked to tell the truth – and if they are healthy and able to wear a Face Covering – to wear a Face Covering so that they do not put other people at risk of serious illness and death,” the city said in a statement.
What if I’m vaccinated?
People need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
What if I’m socially distanced?
If you’re in a public indoor space, you still need to wear a mask.
What should business owners do?
Business owners are expected to make sure customers are following mask rules. If someone refuses to wear a mask and refuses to leave a business, employees should call the police, the county said.
When does the order expire?
The order is set to expire on Sept. 1, but city and county officials say they expect a county public health rule to go into effect before then with a new mask mandate.
What’s up with this public health rule?
The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote Wedensday on a public health rule to require masks countywide. The rule would take 10 days to go into effect.
The Charlotte mayor said this new mask mandate is meant to require masks until the new rule can take effect.