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Mask mandate questions loom as Charlotte Mayor defers decision

A review of local ordinances and state laws reveals Lyles does have that power, especially because the area is still under a State of Emergency.
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 7:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - During a news conference Tuesday morning, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles claimed she did not have the power to create a mask mandate within city limits. However, a review of local ordinances and state laws reveals Lyles does have that power, especially because the area is still under a State of Emergency.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management confirmed to WBTV that Mecklenburg County, Charlotte and the surrounding towns are still under the same State of Emergency that what was originally signed in March 2020. While the individual restrictions are no longer in effect, the joint proclamation still exists.

In a statement issued later in the afternoon Lyles clarified her comments writing “It is important that the entire Charlotte-Mecklenburg region work together to battle COVID-19. At this time, we have not received a recommendation to reinstitute the mask mandate. If we do get that recommendation, I along with the Mayors and other elected officials will discuss and consider that recommendation, which is consistent with the approach that we’ve taken throughout the pandemic.”

Lyles is referring to The Policy Group, which WBTV previously reported on in October 2020. Town and City Managers, the Public Health Director and other unelected officials were meeting routinely to discuss possible restrictions and actions to take to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

Several government sources told WBTV The Policy Group met on August 2nd for the first time since June. There is another meeting scheduled for next week, but no details have been provided on whether new restrictions will be discussed.

The Emergency Operations Center has also reopened in a virtual monitoring capacity after closing shop on July 1st.

A spokesperson said that while there is no specific end date for the countywide State of Emergency the expectation is that The Policy Group will recommend to end the local one when the statewide State of Emergency expires.

During her news conference Mayor Lyles said that her personal preference is to wear a mask and she urged people to get the vaccine.

“I’ve been really, really consistent that we should follow the science,” Lyles said.

“I will support wearing masks I think it is an effective ay to address this virus.”

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