June 30, 2020
On June 24th Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 141 that became effective June 26 at 5 pm and remains in effect until July 17. One defining point in this order is the mandatory wearing of face coverings. This has been a highly contested point among citizens in the state. Many say wearing the mask does not protect adequately and others say that people who do not wear the mask are putting others at risk for contracting the virus and possible death.
This has become a “hotbed” subject and is even rumored to be behind the recent shooting incident at our local Chili’s last Saturday. That being said it is time to clarify exactly what is and is not mandated by the Order and what recourse people have when they see the order is bring violated.
The Order states “face coverings can decrease the spread of respiratory droplets from people, and evidence has grown, showing in numerous recent studies that the use of face coverings decreases the spread of COVID-19 within populations that workers in personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses wear cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19; has determined that face coverings must now be required for workers in additional business segments.”
It strongly recommends that “all people over the age of two (2) in North Carolina should wear a face covering to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” Now there is a later exception to the two (2) year old age requirement for masks in the order that says the age is now eleven (11) years of age.
The order also states that people who have medical or behavioral health issues, disabilities, or “other reasons“ should be exempted from wearing a face covering. North Carolinians will be on the honor system to identify if they have one of the exceptions to face covering requirements and should not wear a mask.
“Face coverings are required in many types of businesses, but businesses have the discretion to accommodate people who cannot wear face coverings by serving them at curbside, using home delivery, or using other means to protect against the spread of COVID-19.”
It also reads “some populations may experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled if wearing face coverings in public spaces, if someone is the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the face covering provision or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to law enforcement or another government agency.”
Other exemptions to the “mask order” worn by-a worker, customer, or patron are as follows:
1) Should not wear a Face Covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
2) Is under eleven ( 11) years of age;
3) Is actively eating or drinking;
4) Is strenuously exercising;
5) Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
6) Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
7) Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
8) Is temporarily removing his or her Face Covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
9) Would be at risk from wearing a Face Covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
10) Has found that his or her Face Covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle;
11) Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child’s face.
Anyone who declines to wear a Face Covering for these reasons should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition.”
“Everyone in this state is asked to tell the truth and-if they are healthy and able to wear a mask-to wear a Face Covering so that they do not put other people at risk of serious illness and death.”
If you are not wearing a mask and someone approaches you acting in a manner that you feel could cause physically harm to your person, it can be considered assault and you do have the right to call law enforcement and press charges.
Now that being said the order also places restrictions on law enforcement as follows: “Citations can be written to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings. Operators of businesses and organizations can rely on their customers statements about whether or not they are exempt from the face covering requirements.”
“Individuals will not be cited, but if a person refuses to wear a face covering inside a business or organization that is attempting to enforce the order, and if that person enters the premises and refuses to leave, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws.”
If you feel a business is not complying with the Governor’s Executive Order concerning the wearing of face coverings you may report this business to the following people:
In Rutherford County you will need to fill out a form online regarding a COVID-19 violation to a local, state or federal order at the following link. (https://rutherford.rja.revize.com/forms/777)
You may also find information for reporting violations at https://www.nc.gov/covid19
To contact the Governor’s office directly you can go to this link: (https://governor.nc.gov/contact/contact-governor-cooper)
or you can mail a complaint to:
North Carolina Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
As there are multiple exceptions for individuals not wearing masks in public places it is best to not directly confront an individual concerning this. You may ask them to step back six (6) feet from you or try yourself to avoid any close contact. If you are considered an “at risk” individual the Governor recommends that you stay at home to limit your potential exposure.
This is a fluid situation that will change as more is known on how to best deal with this virus and how it affects society as a whole. The best thing you can do is try to be informed and most importantly respect each other. We are all in this together and working together we can move forward as a community.