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)

In-Home Gatherings

There has been confusion over whether or not non-household members must wear masks when visiting each other in their homes (see tweet below).

Below is the language of the executive order to which the user above is referring:

Subsection I(B). Requiring Face Coverings Indoors Even if Other People Will Be More Than Six Feet Away. Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of Executive Order No. 169 are amended to read: 2.1. Face Coverings Required In Public Places. a. The undersigned enacts the following restriction on the movement of people in public places and restriction on the operation of offices, business establishments, schools, and other places where people may travel or congregate. b. For any place outside the home, including but not limited to businesses, schools, and other establishments and spaces: 1. Face Coverings must be worn indoors if anyone else is in that space who is not a member of the same household. 2. Face Coverings must be worn outdoors if it is not possible to consistently be physically distant by more than six ( 6) feet from nonhousehold members. c. These requirements shall apply to all people at least five ( 5) years old, unless an exception applies. These requirements are recommended for all people over the age of two (2) years old.

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.

Read the Governor’s full executive order here. Read the accompanying FAQs here and the press release here.