The city of Winston-Salem is requiring people who enter city-owned or city-leased buildings to wear face coverings in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Mayor Allen Joines issued a declaration that mandates the mask requirement to take effect at 5 p.m. today, according to a city document.
"It is my desire to curtail the spread of COVID-19 within the city of Winston-Salem by requiring the use of face coverings by persons accessing buildings and enclosed structures owned or leased by the city of Winston-Salem," Joines said in the declaration.
The Forsyth County Department of Public Health reported Thursday the county had 96 new cases for a total of at least 3,946 since mid-March. The number of COVID-19 deaths remained at 40 people.
Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order on June 24 mandated a statewide mask requirement but didn't cover local city buildings, and Cooper strongly encouraged local governments to adopt similar policies that require face coverings, the city declaration said.
The city's face covering requirement doesn't apply to city-owned or leased open-air facilities such as basketball shelters, swimming pools, picnic shelters and the Reynolds Park golf course.
"While a face covering will not be required for such open-air facilities, individuals are strong encouraged to adhere to (the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) 6-foot social distancing recommendation," the city's declaration said.
The face-covering requirement exempts people whose religious beliefs prevent them from a wearing a face covering, people who cannot wear a face covering because of medical or behavioral condition or disability, children under 11 years old, a person who is eating or drinking, someone who is strenuously exercising, a person who is communicating with someone who is hearing impaired and someone who is complying with the directions of law enforcement officers.
The city wants residents to voluntarily comply with the face covering requirement.
People who enter a city building and refuse to put on a mask could be instructed to leave the building by city officials.
Refusal to leave a city building will allow police officers to enforce trespassing laws, the city said in its declaration.
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