Governor says masks no longer required outdoors; expands gathering limits

Gov. Roy Cooper during COVID-19 briefing April 21, 2021. [courtesy PBS North Carolina]

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday eased mask restrictions, saying they still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors.

Cooper’s new executive order also increases mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

The mandates take effect April 30 and are set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” Cooper said. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines. To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses. 48.7% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 39.2% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

State health officials are continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and continue to practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.