Phase two extended, face covering requirement announced

Phase two extended, face covering requirement announced

Governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order extending the state’s second phase of reopening for several more weeks.

Phase two will be extended, with some changes, through July 17 at 5 p.m., according to Executive Order No. 147.

Read Executive Order No. 147 in full.

Face coverings will also now be required in certain settings.

“People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible,” Cooper explains.

Those settings include:

  • Retail businesses,
  • Restaurants,
  • Personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses,
  • Child care facilities, day camps and overnight camps,
  • State government,
  • Transportation,
  • Certain high-density occupational settings where social distancing is difficult,
  • Meat or poultry processing plants,
  • Long term care facilities,
  • Other healthcare settings.

Officials say evidence shows that face coverings can decrease the spread of coronavirus, especially among those who may not yet show any symptoms.

“There are exceptions including people with medical conditions and children under 11, people who are at home and people who are walking or otherwise exercising outside when not within six feet of others,” he adds.

More details on face covering requirements and exceptions can be found here.

According to officials, law enforcement can not criminally enforce the face covering requirements against individuals, but citations can be written to businesses or organizations that do not enforce the requirement. However, officials say a worker, customer or patron can potentially be cited for trespassing if they refuse to wear a face mask and do not leave the premises when asked.

“Wearing a face covering is an easy thing to do that can make a huge impact for all of us,” says Dennis Taylor, a nurse, and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association. “A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow healthcare providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come.”

Executive Order No. 147 goes into effect on Friday at 5 p.m.

Cooper says coronavirus data for the state made it clear that it was not time to move into the next phase of easing restrictions.

See trends and data from Wednesday’s briefing.

“The numbers we see are a stark warning, and I’m concerned,” he explains. “As we have watched and studied and dissected these numbers in recent weeks, that concern has grown. Since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve been clear that data and science would lead the way.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 trends on Wednesday:

  • Trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases is increasing,
  • Trajectory of cases is starting to level but still increasing,
  • Trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests remains elevated,
  • Trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing, but there is capacity in the healthcare setting.

Cohen adds that the capacity for testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment has increased.