Updated June 25 at 2:47 p.m. with a statement from the Alamance County Sheriff's Office.
Face coverings will now be required in public places for all individuals in North Carolina effective Friday, June 26, Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday.
In a press conference, Cooper said this mandate under Executive Order No. 147 comes after the continuous increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state. Wednesday saw the second-highest number of cases and hospitalizations since the pandemic began in March, with 1,721 new cases and 906 hospitalizations as of today.
“People must wear face coverings when in public places — indoors and outdoors — where physical distancing of six feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible,” Cooper said.
According to Cooper, children under 11, individuals with medical conditions and people who are at home or are walking and exercising with more than six feet of distance are not required to wear face coverings.
Businesses and organizations can be cited if they do not enforce face coverings. Individual workers, customers or patrons cannot be cited. If a business or organization denies entry to an individual without a face mask and they refuse to leave, that individual can be charged with trespassing.
Phase 2 was set to end Friday. Both Phase 2 and the mask requirement continues through Friday, July 17, unless extended or rescinded.
“We’re taking this pause right now to see if we can level out our numbers,” Cooper said.
The Alamance County Sheriff's Office will not issue citations for violating the face coverings mandate, but "recommends compliance" with the Cooper's executive order requiring them, according to a press release from the department.
According to the Alamance County Health Department, as of Wednesday, there have been 1004 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county. Two Elon University students on-campus and one staff member have contracted the virus according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard. Since June 13, all 323 confirmed cases have come from the general population and not from individuals in long term care facilities.
Previously, long term care facilities accounted for the majority of the coronavirus cases in the county, as vulnerable populations in close quarters are more susceptible to the virus. The Alamance County Health Department began targeted sample collections to identify outbreaks in long term care facilities.
Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening process began on May 22, which allowed restaurants to resume dine-in services at half capacity and increase gathering numbers among other things.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services filed an Order of Abatement of Imminent Hazard against ACE Speedway in Alamance County claiming the speedway violated Executive Order No. 141 of Phase 2 by holding a mass gathering of more than 25 people outdoors. While the speedway is temporarily closed, a judge is expected to rule on this case June 24.