North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a new round of coronavirus restrictions this week, asking residents to wear a face-covering at home or in their cars if they’re around guests.
“The order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household,” Cooper’s office said in a statement.
The amendment to a prior executive order says face coverings will be required indoors “if anyone else in that space and is not a member of the same household.” Cooper has already limited indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings to no more than a capacity of 50.
Anyone in violation of the state’s new order could face a Class 2 misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger,” Cooper said in the statement. “This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”
North Carolina sees spikes in both coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations in the last week, according to state health officials. Widespread outbreaks in a majority of the state’s 100 counties have been a cause for concern for “critical” community spread, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care, whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, the state’s health secretary.
More than 339,000 North Carolinians have contracted the coronavirus, and more than 5,000 have died, according to the governor’s office.