No masks required outside starting Friday, per governor’s new order

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Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety

Gov. Roy Cooper dons a face mask at a press briefing.

Emily Broyles, News Editor

Starting Friday, North Carolinians do not have to wear masks outdoors, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a press conference Wednesday. 

“We are grateful that North Carolina continues to hold steady when it comes to our COVID-19 metrics. But while our numbers remain stable, we are not seeing the decline in metrics we would like to see,” Cooper said.

The new mask regulations apply no matter your vaccination status. The governor said while this order comes Friday and numbers are stable, the data shows the pandemic still exists. He encourages North Carolinians to social distance and wear their masks when needed to combat the virus.

Cooper said that once 2/3 of North Carolinians are vaccinated, the mask mandate will be lifted indoors.

Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said her team consulted with all public health efforts.

She also said most people who come in for their first COVID-19 vaccine shot sign up for the second.

“We will have enough protection in our community. We can live with this virus and lift things like the mask mandate,” Cohen said.

Cooper said vaccination efforts are with “great progress,” with almost half of adults in the state partially vaccinated and 40% fully vaccinated.

“But to get to two-thirds, we need everybody to work on this. Tell your loved ones why it’s safe and easy. Give them a ride if they need it,” Cooper said.

Both Cooper and Cohen said that in order for North Carolina residents to have a normal summer, they need to help with following COVID-19 guidelines and getting vaccinated. The governor may lift more restrictions June 1.