Wilmington residents and businesses react to tightened state’s mask mandate

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Alarming new COVID-19 numbers in the state have Governor Roy Cooper announcing a tightening of statewide restrictions.

Previous guidance called for wearing a mask when it was not possible to keep six feet apart.

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The new guidance says masks should be worn at all times when indoors in public places.

They also mandate wearing them whenever you are with people who do not live in your immediate household.

Gov. Cooper also put more responsibility on businesses to enforce masks being worn inside their stores.

Some local business owners say they won’t let the most recent announcement keep them from staying the course.

“I think right now we really need to be called to not live in fear and just to walk by faith,” My Sister’s Cottage Owner Britteny Bellinger. “And so, that’s just what I’m choosing to do. Quite frankly we opened our doors a little over six weeks ago during this pandemic and our business has grown by 40 percent.”

Some shoppers say they understand the need for stricter guidelines.

“Anything we can do for safety and to keep us and everyone else safe is paramount,” Leland resident Pat Thompson said. “And there are people out there that are not taking it as seriously. Our numbers are up and it’s just not fair to those of us who do take it seriously.”

Gyms across the state are also being asked to enforce mask-wearing even while patrons are exercising. Retail stores over 15,000 square feet are now required for an employee assigned to mask enforcement. One small business owner says when it comes to masks in her shop, they are leaving it up to the customers.

“People come in and they say ‘hey do you mind if I take my mask off’ and I kind of just say peace be with you, do whatever you want to do,” says Bellinger. “In the six weeks that we’ve been here, we’ve had one person walk out because of that and honestly people like kind of breathe a sigh of relief.”

Gov. Cooper’s latest executive order will go into effect on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. and be in place until at least December 11.