In accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines set by Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger announced later that day that Orange County would adhere to statewide lifted restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings. Following this announcement, Cooper lifted the statewide mask mandate and limits on gathering, distancing and capacities.
Hemminger said she echoed Cooper’s announcement in order to minimize confusion for residents hearing policy changes from state and county legislators. She also said she felt Orange County was ready for this removal of restrictions.
“We have, in the past, been more stringent, but because we have a higher vaccination rate than most of the other counties anyway, we felt that we needed to go ahead and comply,” Hemminger said.
As of Tuesday, 62.21 percent of residents living in Orange County had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 57.7 percent had been fully vaccinated.
The mayor said, however, that she still encourages residents to wear masks if they feel uncertain about the changes and to be respectful of businesses that continue to require face coverings.
Renee Price, chairperson of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, worked with Hemminger along with the mayors of Carrboro and Hillsborough to make the decision to follow Cooper’s changes.
She said Orange County businesses and their supporters contacted them to express their need to reopen full operations to generate revenue again, which contributed to the decision to lift restrictions.
They were confident in this choice due to high vaccination rates in the county, Price said, but a high percentage of residents that have not yet received the vaccine or are skeptical of it presents concerns.