ENC Sheriffs won’t enforce face mask mandate

Local

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Governor Roy Cooper’s new executive order, requiring people to wear face masks, is aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But police and sheriffs in the east have their own message about the mandate.

Just hours after Governor Cooper made his announcement of making face masks a requirement, sheriffs in N.C. went to Facebook to make their message loud and clear — they won’t enforce the mandate.

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes encouraged people to be careful and take safety precautions, but
says his deputies will not be taking enforcement actions on people or businesses.

Washington County deputies won’t issue citations for people violating the Governor’s order. The
Facebook post continued to say to “practice social distancing and washing your hands.”

Beaufort County Sheriff Ernie Coleman said his department will not be enforcing the mandate. He encouraged people to use hand sanitizer and face masks where social distancing is not possible.

Martin County Sheriff’s says there’s no legal authority to enforce the mandate.

In fact, Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 147 states law enforcement personnel are not authorized to criminally enforce face masks requirements.

If a customer or worker refuses to wear a face covering at a business requiring it, the person could
be considered trespassing.

Onslow Sheriff Hans Miller says it is the department’s duty to enforce, but they will not overreach.

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