July 13, 2020

Sheriff clarifies enforcement of Governor’s mask order

Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman told The Times on June 26 that he would like to address questions he has received about how officers will enforce Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 147, regarding face masks.

The Order, which goes into effect June 26 at 5 p.m., requires people to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth in public situations, in addition to waiting six feet apart in lines and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

There are exceptions to the face covering order. For instance, people with medical conditions and children under age 11 are not required to wear a mask. People exercising, eating, and drinking are also excepted.

The Sheriff said the state-issued FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document for Order 147 indicates that “Citations related to this Order can be written to businesses or organizations that fail to enforce the requirement to wear face coverings.”

“The FAQ document says ‘can,’ but it does not say ‘will’ or ‘shall,’ the Sheriff noted.

Although citations can be written, it appears that individuals cannot be subject to criminal action for not wearing a face covering.

Sheriff Bowman continued: “The document says ‘law enforcement cannot criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this Order against individual workers, customers, or patrons. However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.’”

Sheriff Bowman also indicated the FAQ said businesses and organizations must rely on the statements of customers or patrons regarding their exemptions to wearing a mask.

Other resources

View Executive Order 147:
https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO147-Phase-2-Extension.pdf

The FAQ document for Order 147 is shown below.

 

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