As mask mandate begins, Mecklenburg County considers adding parks, government buildings

As mask mandate begins, Mecklenburg County considers adding parks, government buildings

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said she is working to expand the statewide mask mandate to cover county government buildings, parks and nature preserves.

Diorio said that she would bring the proclamation to the Board of County Commissioners during their next meeting on July 7.

Under the order signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, local government buildings and properties are not covered for the mask mandate but it recommends that local governments enact their own policies.

“I’ll be bringing an action to the Board to get them to vote to require face coverings on county property which would include all county buildings, nature preserves, parks, everything,” Diorio said. “But right now it does not include that and we need an action of the board to be able to enforce that provision.”

Diorio told reporters she hasn’t heard from local business owners who are worried about enforcing the new mask requirements in the governor’s order.

CMPD Chief Jeff Estes said that enforcement of the current order from the governor will largely rely on education and not criminal action.

Estes said that in some cases where people refuse to wear masks inside a business CMPD officers could issue a trespass citation.

Regarding a potentially new mask requirement in local parks, Estes said enforcement would be tricky.

“It is very difficult on a practical level, on a widespread order, to enforce individual mask mandates like that but I trust in the process, I trust in the county commissioners and the county manager to put forth a proclamation that makes practical sense and then we’ll follow along likewise,” Estes said.

Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said that she is hopeful the statewide mask requirement will make an impact on the number of positive cases but cautioned that social distancing is still necessary.

“I believe it will help,” Harris said. “It gets the message across but, again, it’s dependent on the individuals in our community to do their part.”

Diorio announced the county is beginning a 12-week media campaign that will include billboards and media ads to remind people to wear a mask, walk six feet apart and wash their hands, also known as the three W’s.

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