Orange County will require business employees wear facial coverings starting 5 p.m. on May 22 under an amendment to the existing Orange County Emergency Declaration.
Under the amendment, which is an Orange County-specific addition to Governor Roy Cooper’s Phase 2 executive order, dine-in restaurants will limit party size to six people except in the cases of large households. The amendment also recommends businesses should require customers to wear facial coverings or masks. The amendment is set to expire on June 30.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said despite initial concerns about the length of Phase 1, county and town leaders were comfortable moving into Phase 2 with these modifications because Cooper’s order, which will allow salons, dine-in restaurants and pools to reopen, is more modest than was initially outlined in his three-phase plan.
“People in our community both live and work in other communities, so staying more consistent with the Governor’s plan we find helpful,” Hemminger said.
Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich said the facial covering rule accommodates for dine-in restaurants, and customers can take coverings off to eat, but said customers are still recommended to wear them while they wait to be seated and served.
Although the order does not require businesses to provide masks to their employees, Rich said this responsibility should still fall on businesses, and recommended any business struggling to provide masks to its employees ask for help from the county’s Emergency Operations Center.
“We’ve gotten a lot of donations of cloth face coverings that our first responders cannot use because they’re not PPE, they’re not for that, so we do have some we can give,” Rich said. “If employers don’t have access to them, they would call the Emergency Operations Center.”
Those under the age of 12 and those who abstain from wearing a facial covering for religious or health reasons are exempt from this part of the amendment.
Under the state order, mass gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outside, except for religious gatherings. The county order clarifies that public bodies, such as council and commission meetings, are still limited to 10 people, but this limit does not apply to religious services, weddings and funerals.