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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : news : law enforcement October 26, 2020

6/26/2020 6:05:00 PM
COVID-19 Update
Masks are now required; concealed carry while wearing mask is OK

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

226 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus in Lincoln County; 151 of those have recovered, two died, and there are currently 73 active cases. 26 people are awaiting the results of their tests.

With 35 new confirmed cases reported Friday, Catawba County's active cases now numbers 377. 314 people there have recovered from the disease while 13 died. 11 people are still hospitalized.

In Gaston County, the Health Dept. reported 325 active cases Friday afternoon. 586 people have recovered and Gaston County has had 12 deaths.

Cleveland County has 70 active cases; 175 people have recovered and the county has had three deaths related to COVID-19.

Mecklenburg County's death toll from the disease is now 147. The county has had over nine thousand positive tests.

North Carolina reported 1,635 new COVID-19 cases Friday; the state's death toll is now 1303. The number of people hospitalized with complications from the virus was down slightly from the 914 peak earlier this week; 892 were hospitalized Friday.

Governor Roy Cooper's mandate requiring wearing masks when in public places went into effect at 5 PM Friday. Law enforcement won't be citing people for not wearing a facial covering, but businesses can be cited if they don't enforce the requirement on their premises.

The Lincolnton City Council passed a resolution at its meeting Thursday night urging compliance with the mask requirement. City Police have been instructed to enforce the requirement that businesses require customers as well as employees to wear a facial covering.

The PBS NewsHour ran a segment as a part of its newscast on Thursday that in part compared the number of new COVID-19 cases in states that had not yet required masks and those that had.  At the time, North Carolina was still among the not-required group.  In that group, the number of new cases had increased by 84% while in the states that had required masks, the number of new cases had declined by 25%.  

With a few exceptions, most Lincolnton and Lincoln County businesses have indicated they will comply with the mask requirement.  

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Questions have arisen about information circulating on social media regarding the ability of persons with a valid concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun while wearing a mask.

To make sure people understand the law, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office issued the following news release:

Senate Bill 704 Temporarily Authorizes Masks in Public for Health & Safety Due to COVID-19         

With the enactment in May of Section 4 of Senate Bill 704, a person is now temporarily authorized to wear a mask in public and on private premises (such as in a shopping mall) for the “purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others.”  The person wearing a mask for health or safety reasons must remove the mask upon the request of a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop (including at a checkpoint or roadblock) or criminal investigation.

This temporary authorization expires on August 1, 2020.  If the General Assembly does not extend this temporary provision of law, it will again be a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to wear a mask in public (including those with a concealed handgun permit whether or not they are carrying a concealed handgun) unless one of the other exceptions described above applies.

Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam said, “Law enforcement personnel are not authorized to criminally enforce the Face Covering requirements of this Executive Order against individual workers, customers, or patrons.

"However, if a business or organization does not allow entry to a worker, customer, or patron because that person refuses to wear a face covering, and if that worker, customer, or patron enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises, law enforcement personnel may enforce the trespassing laws.”   (N.C. Gen. Stat.§ 14-288.20A)

So you can wear your required mask and if you have a concealed carry permit, you can carry your gun while wearing the mask just like before the pandemic.

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