CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One day after Mecklenburg County Commissioners floated the idea of requiring masks county-wide, several town mayors in the county said the idea was not supported locally. County Manager Dena Diorio said the mandate would need the support of local towns in order to move forward.
Commissioner Trevor Fuller asked county staff to come back with a recommendation on a mask requirement at their next meeting.
County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said he was supportive of a mask requirement in order to fight the rise in local coronavirus cases.
“It seems like people are not getting the message and we’re definitely trending in the wrong direction,” Jerrell said.
Jerrell and other commissioners say they’re worried that if the amount of positive cases does not start declining the state would have to introduce new restrictions.
“We don’t want to go back there, we do that it hurts everyone,” Jerrell said.
Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam said that his town commission recently voted against requiring masks locally even though they strongly recommend wearing one when out.
“Town of Cornelius really doesn’t plan to sign on with that,” Washam said.
Similarly Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla said that he supported recommending masks but not requiring them.
“I think it’s really unlikely that you could enforce this mandate,” Anarella said.
“It would be difficult to pick somebody out and say they’re adhering or not adhering to the mask law.”
Only Matthews Mayor John Higdon stated unequivocally that he would support a mask mandate. In an email to WBTV he also agreed it would be difficult to enforce.
“Due to the increase in COVID cases, I would support mandating masks in indoor areas where social distancing can’t be easily observed. Enforcing such a mandate would be difficult if not impossible, but it would put peer pressure on everyone to respect the well being of others by wearing a mask,” Higdon wrote.
The City of Charlotte made no commitment on where Mayor Vi Lyles stands on the issue.
“We are in conversations with Mecklenburg County and other municipalities and we are currently discussing this issue,” spokesperson Cory Burkarth wrote in an email.
During a Monday news conference, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper suggested the state could introduce a mask mandate but a spokesperson for his office said there was no update on when a decision would be made.
Mint Hill Mayor Brad Simmons and Cornelius Mayor Washam both said it would be easier to wait for the state to make a decision.
“I think we could probably follow the governor’s lead on that if it comes in the next few days,” Simmons said.
“It becomes confusing when there’s separate orders,” Washam said.
But Mecklenburg County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said it’s not worth waiting on the state.
“Our numbers are practically double the next nearest county and so how can we be held to that same standard, we can’t wait for the governor,” Jerrell said.