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Law enforcement to encourage voluntary compliance, not citations for face mask mandate

Many law enforcement agencies said they hope for voluntary compliance when it comes to wearing face masks and they don't plan to hand out citations.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Starting Friday night Governor Roy Cooper's face mask mandate takes effect throughout the state of North Carolina.

The masks will be required for anyone in public regardless of whether one is inside or outside but there are exceptions to the rule.

The Executive Order 147, issued Wednesday, has Triad law enforcement deciding what to do with it and whether or not to enforce it, if at all.

The face masks will be mandatory for all employees of businesses like retail shops and restaurants and state employees where they can't social distance.

While law enforcement cannot arrest individuals for not wearing a mask, they can issue citations to businesses that fail to enforce the wearing of masks. The order is part of the phase 2 extension plan for reopening.

Governor Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks and will implement mandatory face coverings in public. When worn consistently, face coverings can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who have yet to show symptoms, according to the health department.

The exemptions to the mask requirement however include folks with medical conditions, kids 10 and under, those exercising or walking six feet apart or people in their homes.

Greensboro and High Point police said rather than enforcement, they'll focus on educating and encouraging voluntary compliance with the order.

A statement from the High Point Police Department reads;

"The city of High Point did not issue a face-covering requirement; we are under Executive Order 147.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent executive orders, the philosophy of the High Point Police Department has been to seek voluntary compliance from citizens and businesses as we navigate this complex and challenging situation. While Executive Order 147 gives us the authority to cite businesses for non-compliance, that is not our goal."

Elon Police department is also taking the same approach by asking the community to help by way of voluntary compliance.

Rockingham and Alamance Sheriff's deputies will not cite or arrest individuals for violating the face mask mandate.

"The Alamance County Sheriff's Office recommends compliance of the Governor's Executive Order requiring face coverings. However, the Sheriff's Office will not issue a citation for violations," said Byron Tucker, the public information officer for the Sheriff's office.

The Rockingham County Sheriff's office added that deputies will respond to trespassing calls if a person not wearing a mask refuses to leave a business.

"The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office will not be citing/arresting any individuals for violation of the facemask mandate. If businesses call we will respond and assess the situation. Any business can ask a patron to leave and if they refuse that could be a violation. That's for any reason. As for individual enforcement for not wearing masks, no we will not be doing that," said Sgt Kevin Suthard of the Rockingham County Sheriff's office in an email to WFMY News 2.

Not everyone is in favor of the order. The group Re-Open NC has planned a protest in Raleigh on Friday.

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