• 77°

Police, sheriff focus on education in addressing mask-wearing complaints

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Complaints are still being reported about businesses whose employees and/or customers are not wearing masks, but local law enforcement say there is little they can do to enforce it.

The governor’s order requires face coverings in retail businesses, restaurants as well as personal care or grooming and tattoo shops and other similar establishments. When it comes to the enforcement of the order, its text says “law enforcement personnel are not authorized to criminally enforce the face-covering requirements of this executive order against individual workers, customers, or patrons.”

It’s a stipulation Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes and Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten say they are adhering to. Stokes said instead of citations against businesses, the method of enforcement specified in Gov. Roy Cooper’s order, police officers are going the education route.

“We have not cited any businesses. We are still advising of the possible violation and educating about the order,” he said. “We have received very few complaints. Most of those are funneled through County Emergency Management before they get to us.”

Stokes added that his department’s response to these orders “has been to educate for compliance.”

“The governor has even expressed that as the proper way to approach the orders, voluntary compliance,” Stokes said.

Auten said early on the sheriff’s office issued citations to some who violated the stay-at-home order. In those incidents, the people cited were committing other crimes as well, he said. In April, a Kannapolis pair were charged with breaking into a vehicle outside of a Kannapolis business and violating the stay-at-home order. A week later a couple was charged during a traffic stop for driving-related infractions and violating the stay-at-home order.

“We have received a few complaints about mask wearing, but not as of late,” Auten said. “We have not cited a business for this. The few complaints were handled by speaking with owners.”

Almost all of the complaints have fallen within the city or town limits due to the nature of the businesses, Auten said.

Rowan County spokesman T.J. Brown said the Rowan Public Health Department has received complaints about specific businesses but that most people are trying to comply. Brown said masking is one component of the health recommendations to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“While we know that masking helps reduce the spread we know all three things together really help,” Brown said, noting waiting six feet apart and washing hands regularly.

Brown said he believes the goal behind the mask-wearing executive order is to be more educational.

Typically when a complaint is filed, the Rowan Public Health Department issues a letter. If there’s a larger number of complaints, the company will receive a visit or phone call from a nurse manager at the Health Department.

The health department will also make sure the business has access to educational material,  understand the guidance behind mask wearing and have an opportunity to ask questions, Brown said.



Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road


Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business


Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges


Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting


Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest


N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding


RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest


Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction


Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured


Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12


Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September


Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers


Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners


Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs


Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers


Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class


Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow


States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes


Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack


NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line


Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting


People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%