Gov. Cooper requires masks, extends COVID-19 phase two


Coronavirus update: requires masks, extends COVID-19 phase two. Photo my Caitlyn Dark, graphic by Lauren Wessell.

Caitlyn Dark, News Editor

Raleigh, N.C. — It looks like face masks and social distancing restrictions are here to stay, for the time being.

This past Wednesday, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced that he would be extending the current COVID-19 Phase Two restrictions and adding a mandatory rule for face masks in public. This extension comes on the heels of a continually slow but steady rise in COVID-19 infections rates in our state, with New Hanover County experiencing a 220% increase in reported cases of the virus as of last week.

The extension was announced two days before the original Phase Two ruling was set to expire on June 26, as the state continues to fall short of the anticipated criteria for continued reopening. It extends the Phase Two timeline by three weeks, a time period which Governor Cooper hopes will give experts enough time and data to more thoroughly evaluate the possible ramifications of further opening the state.

The state-wide mask requirement is a notably new addition to North Carolina’s guidelines, though such a rule has already been instituted by several NC county and city governments, such as Orange County and the city of Raleigh. Enforcement of the face mask rule is expected to mostly fall to stores, businesses and individuals, though law enforcement may be called upon to mediate the situation if a person refuses to abide by the face mask rules set by a place of business.

People are expected to wear masks any time they are in public and cannot adequately distance themselves from other people. The only exceptions to the mask requirement include children under the age of 11, people with certain medical conditions and those exercising outdoors who are able maintain a considerable distance from others.

The mandatory mask order will take effect tomorrow, June 26, at 5 p.m.