by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
On Monday, November 23 – three days before Thanksgiving – Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order tightening mask restriction across the state. Some North Carolinians are confused, as the contents of the executive order and the Governor’s statements about the order appear conflicting to many.
For instance, Executive Order 180 states:
In Transportation. All workers and riders on public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina… must wear Face Coverings at all times, unless an exception applies. This provision does not apply to people traveling alone with household members *or friends* in their personal vehicles, but does apply to ride-shares, cabs, vans, and shuttles, even if the vehicles are privately owned. (emphasis added)
However, in the press release accompanying the order, friends appear to disappear from this exemption. Gov. Cooper’s Deputy Communications Director, Ford Porter, states:
The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when travelling with people outside of the household. (emphasis added)
What’s more, the official FAQ document accompanying the executive order states:
If I am riding in a personal vehicle with family and/or friends, am I required to wear a face covering?
Individuals traveling in a personal vehicle with household members are not required to wear a face covering. Individuals traveling in a personal vehicle with non-household members are required to wear a face covering. Face coverings are required in rideshares, even if the vehicle is privately owned. There is an exception to the face covering requirement for anyone who finds that his or her face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle. (emphasis added)
There has been confusion over whether or not non-household members must wear masks when visiting each other in their homes (see tweet below).
The FAQ says individuals are required to wear masks at someone else’s home, but the EO only discusses indoor PUBLIC settings. Any clarification whether the EO address private residences?
— Happy (@dropstack410) November 24, 2020
Below is the language of the executive order to which the user above is referring:
It’s easy to understand how people have a difficult time figuring out how a private residence could fit into these guidelines. After all, the Executive Order does label the section “Face Covering Required in Public Places” and never explicitly refers to a “home,” or “dwelling,” or “residence.” However, one’s home could be interpreted to fall under “other places where people may travel or congregate.” That casts a wide net.
Cooper’s administration certainly believes a home fits under this section, as the accompanying FAQ document states:
If I am attending an indoor social event at a friend’s home with non-household members, am I required to wear a face covering?
Yes. Face coverings must be worn indoors if anyone else is in that space who is not a member of the same household.