Indoor mask mandate ends in Wake County

26 February 2022

— As of 5 p.m. on Friday, masks will no longer be required in Wake County, impacting Raleigh and many other cities and towns.

The easing of restrictions falling on the same day the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance for masking.

Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Rolesville, Zebulon, Morrisville and the unincorporated areas of Wake County will join Raleigh in losing their mask mandates for indoor public spaces.

Masks are already optional in several other towns across the county, including Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Wake Forest and Wendell.

Mask mandates will remain in place in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough for now.

Samir David says he’s ready to see smiling faces, while others aren’t quite ready to give it up fully.

“The biggest thing is, you don’t see people’s expressions, you don’t know what they’re thinking, it’s that human interaction,” said David. “So, you don’t get to see people. We’re over it.”

John Riggleman said he still plans on wearing his mask.

“I think it’s just the decent thing to do and it’s easy,” said Riggleman.

On Friday, the CDC announced people living in areas that are not considered high transmission spots of the virus could drop the mask. Wake County, however, is not one of them.

A handful of counties within central North Carolina were still deemed “high transmission” spots, according to CDC data from Thursday. It’s unclear whether or not the Wake County Health Department took this data into consideration when deciding to drop its mask mandate.

Raleigh is among seven other cities in North Carolina lifting the mask mandate.

Even with the end of the mandate, individual businesses and organizations can still require masks.

Lucky B’s will not be one of those doing so. Bartender, Travis Wisk, said dropping the masks is something his customers have been looking forward to and it helps their business too.

“It’s relieving for sure. It’s a weight off everybody’s chest,” said Wisk. “Especially when you’re quoting people on prices and stuff like that. They can’t really read your lips through a mask.”

Masks will still be required in airports, on public transportation and in hospitals, among other places.

Mask guidelines are also loosening in Wake County schools. Masks will become optional for all students and staff on Monday, March 7, but effective Friday students and staff will not have to wear masks while participating in indoor extracurricular activities.

This week, Chatham County joined Wake in adopting an optional mask policy in schools beginning March 7, while Durham Public Schools voted to keep its mandate in place.

All but eight school districts in central North Carolina have decided to go mask-optional.

The decision to drop mask mandates comes as North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics continue to improve. Our state added slightly more new infections Thursday, but numbers are still down from a week ago.

On Friday, a big change is coming for mask-wearing nationwide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to relax its mask guidance for the first time since July.

The new recommendations will likely connect mask wearing to hospitalizations and deaths rather than to new COVID-19 cases. Many state and local governments have already rolled back restrictions.

This post was originally published on this site

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