Face Coverings and Masks

Slow the spread. Wear a mask or face covering.

Growing evidence shows that face coverings or masks, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Wearing a cloth mask in public settings is a simple but powerful action to slow the spread of this virus. 

Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 180 which includes additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Read the FAQs for this order.

The order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when travelling with people outside of the household.

As under previous executive orders, several exceptions to the face covering requirement apply. For example, face coverings are not required for people under 5 years of age, people who have a behavioral condition or disability, or people who are actively eating or drinking.

Masks can play a part in controlling the spread if they are used properly and in combination with other everyday preventive actions like washing hands, social distancing and wiping down surfaces. If used incorrectly, face coverings or masks can expose someone to more germs. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing or adjusting a cloth mask and wash hands immediately after removing or adjusting.

Based on recommendations from the CDC, face shields do not meet the requirements for face coverings and does not recommend medical masks as our supplies of masks need to first go to those who work on the frontlines, including health care workers.


People are expected to follow the Governor’s order on face coverings. You can help by making sure you always wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth when you’re in public and when you're with others who aren't in your household.

Under Executive Order 180, there is a penalty for violating the face covering requirement.

To report possible violations, contact local authorities using non-emergency phone numbers. If you are concerned that your local law enforcement won’t enforce the order, you can report violations to other local authorities including your local health department.