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Nash County sheriff won't enforce COVID-19 mask mandate

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NASHVILLE -— Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said his deputies won’t enforce the statewide coronavirus mask mandate.

All North Carolinians are required to wear face masks as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to an order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper, a Nash County native.

Executive Order 147 tasks businesses with ensuring its customers are wearing masks and states that law enforcement officers “are not authorized to criminally enforce the face covering requirements of this executive order against individual workers, customers or patrons.” 

While employees can’t be charged, businesses could be cited and fined if they don’t require face masks, the order states. And though officers can’t ticket or arrest people for refusing to wear masks, the state trespassing statute allows them to arrest people who remain on a business’ property after workers have asked them to leave.

Stone made it clear that unless there are some extenuating circumstances, deputies will not enforce the mask order at all.

“We will not be issuing citations to individuals for not wearing a mask,” Stone said.

Stone said he believes each individual should choose whether or not to wear a face mask depending on his or her situation. 

“If you choose to wear a mask, then do so,” Stone said. “If you choose not, then don’t.”

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Nash County have contniued to rise.

The county health department reported two COVID-19 deaths over the weekend, bringing Nash County’s total number of fatalities from the disease to six. Health officials said 50 positive coronavirus tests were returned last weekend and 22 cased were reported Monday, bringing Nash’s overall case tally to 462 as of press time. 

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