Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Published 1:54 pm Friday, May 14, 2021

SALISBURY — Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday said he’s lifting mandatory capacity, gathering, social distancing and most mandatory indoor mask requirements.

Cooper says masks will still be required on public transit, in child care, schools, prisons and some public health settings. Cooper said businesses and local governments can still require masks if they like. Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said people should still wear masks in large, crowded settings such as sporting events.

Addressing anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, Cooper encouraged people to listen to their doctor. With more people not wearing masks going forward and more contagious variants spreading, there’s a risk unvaccinated people will get COVID-19

“Wear a mask until you get vaccinated,” Cooper said.

Cooper previously said he would lift indoor mask mandates when two-thirds of people had received at least one dose of a vaccine, but he chose to do so Friday because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s issued guidance one day earlier that vaccinated people could go without masks.

Asked about unvaccinated people also going maskless indoors, Cooper said COVID-19 mandates have relied on the personal responsibility of people and businesses. It’s likely there will be many more unvaccinated people going maskless now. However, Cooper said his announcement emphasizes to people that unvaccinated people can transmit the virus.

He said the state didn’t keep a requirement in place for unvaccinated people to wear masks because the state doesn’t currently have a standardized way to determine a person’s status.

People can find a location to receive a vaccine at