Governor Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate

By on May 14, 2021

NC also ends social distancing, mass gathering limits

Gov. Roy Cooper

Declaring that “Today, I have great news to share with the people of North Carolina,” Governor Roy Cooper lifted the indoor mask mandate for most situations and cancelled mass gathering and social distancing requirements effective immediately.

To mark the occasion, neither Cooper nor North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen wore their trademark face coverings at the May 14 press briefing.

“In most settings, indoor and outdoor, the state of North Carolina will no longer require you to wear a mask or socially distance,” Cooper declared. Back in late April, the governor announced that outdoor masks would no longer be mandated in the state.

Today’s decision comes one day after the CDC’s announcement that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear mask or socially distance in most indoor settings.

Cohen said that the few venues in which mask wearing will still be required include public transportation, health care settings, childcare facilities, schools, camps and correctional institutions. Mask wearing will still be recommended for everyone in indoor settings with large crowds. Even as the mask mandate is eliminated, Cooper said the state’s “strong recommendation [is] for unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks…Please be responsible. Wear a mask until you get vaccinated.”

During her remarks, Cohen indicated that an individual “business may choose to require that their customers wear masks.” And in response to a reporter’s question, Cooper said that municipal governments can, should they choose, also continue to require indoor mask wearing.

A good deal of the May 14 press briefing was also focused on the goal of getting more North Carolina residents vaccinated. As of May 14, the NCDHHS is reporting that 51.2% of the state’s adult population has received at least one vaccine dose and that 45.9% is fully vaccinated.

Prior to today, the governor had stated that once two-thirds of North Carolina residents age 18 and older had received at least one shot of COVID vaccine, the state could lift the indoor mask-wearing requirement. At the May 14 briefing, Cooper made clear that was still the goal, adding that “We need to reach all of [those who are not vaccinated] to turn the corner on this pandemic once and for all.”

But noting that he was now lifting the mask requirement with only about half of the state’s adults having received at least one dose, one reporter asked Cooper what had changed in the state’s thinking. “The CDC guidance is what’s changed,” Cooper acknowledged.

Update: In the wake of Governor Roy Cooper lifting indoor mask mandates under most settings, Vidant Health issued this statement noting that its facilities will continue to operate under guidelines that include mask-wearing mandates. At the May 14 press briefing, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said that health care settings were one of the venues that would maintain the mask mandate.

“Throughout the pandemic, Vidant Health has kept the safety and well-being of team members, patients and their loved ones at the forefront of all decisions. Vidant continues to follow state and federal guidance on COVID-19 safety measures. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidance, Vidant will continue to operate under the existing COVID-19 guidelines, including mandatory masking for team members and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. We thank the community for remaining diligent and encourage those who have not yet received their vaccine to make an appointment by visiting or by calling 252-847-8000.”





  • anotherobxman

    So when you walk into your favorite restaurant and look around at the sea of unmasked patrons…….keep in mind that half of them, maybe more, are unvaccinated. Breathe deep.

    Friday, May 14 @ 7:42 pm
  • Dylan

    I fear that we have all been taken for a ride. In a short 3 weeks of time the head of the CDC has gone from “I have a feeling of impending doom” to no mask required. Fauci’s 80% vaccinated population standard before easing mask and distance recommendations to no masks, no distancing when less than 1/2 of the population is fully vaccinated. The timing of this shocking reversal is suspicious. Science? What science? The data for the transmission of the virus outdoors has been known for months and it is less than zero.

    This about face is nothing but public relations 101. This inept administration needed something perceived to be positive to try to balance all of the poor policy decisions of recent weeks…..hacking a pipeline, Afghanistan, inflation, work disincentives, poor jobs report.

    Friday, May 14 @ 9:01 pm
  • Dano

    People who are not vaccinated and are afraid of those who don’t wear mask need to get vaccinated or isolate themselves. No one is making people get vaccinated or go to restaurants. Those who are not vaccinated and go to public place without mask will just risk making other unvaccinated people sick.

    Saturday, May 15 @ 10:03 am
  • Siobhan

    Right on, Dylan.
    It couldn’t be said any better.

    Saturday, May 15 @ 11:17 am
  • Just Sayin

    Unvaccinated people who don’t wear a mask are only a risk to others if they actually have the virus

    Sunday, May 16 @ 6:16 am