The Ocracoke Variety Store on Friday afternoon discontinued the mask mandate, though some patrons are choosing to still wear them. Photo: C. Leinbach

From our news services

While noting that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, Gov. Roy Cooper at 1:30 p.m. today lifted social distancing and indoor capacity limit restrictions and almost all of the mandatory mask requirements.

“That means in most settings, indoors or outdoors, the state of North Carolina will no longer require you to wear a mask or to be socially distant,” Cooper said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

He said the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services strongly recommends those not vaccinated to wear masks.

“With more people not wearing masks going forward, and COVID-19 and its more infectious variants spreading, there’s a real risk that unvaccinated people can get it,” Cooper said. “Please be responsible and wear a mask until you get vaccinated,” he said about those still not vaccinated.

The news came following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others.

Cooper said the indoor mask requirement will remain in effect, in accordance with CDC guidance, on public transportation and in childcare centers, schools, camps, prisons and certain health care settings, such as nursing homes.

During her remarks, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen indicated that “individual businesses may choose to require that their customers wear masks.” In response to a reporter’s question, Cooper said that municipal governments also may choose to continue to require indoor mask wearing.

Despite the relaxing of these restrictions, the virus is not gone, Cooper said.

To date, the state has administered over 7.7 million vaccine doses.

As of today, 51% of North Carolina’s adult population has received at least one dose of COVID vaccine and only 46% are fully vaccinated, Cooper said.

The governor previously stated that once two-thirds of North Carolina residents aged 18 and older have received at least one shot of COVID vaccine, the state could lift the indoor mask-wearing requirement.

Reiterating that the governor was now lifting the mask requirement with only about half of the state’s adults having received at least one dose, one reporter asked Cooper what changed in the state’s thinking.

“The CDC guidance is what’s changed,” Cooper said.

Hyde County today reported zero active COVID-19 cases, with 684 total cases since the pandemic began last year, 674 recovered and 10 deaths.

“Thankfully we may be turning the corner in this pandemic, but I encourage everyone to remain mindful of where we have been, so we do not go back,” said Health Director Luana Gibbs. “In other words, get your shot, wear your mask and socially distance yourself if you have not gotten your shot. Let’s do everything we can to have a healthy summer.”

For questions about the vaccine types, or to schedule appointments, please feel free to contact the Health Department at 252-926-4467 Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Previous articleGas run on Ocracoke abated with stronger restrictions
Next articleMethodist pastor to leave Ocracoke, pot luck today