Ad Spot

January 18, 2021

Editorial: Gov. Cooper’s new order relies on personal responsibility

When Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday began a news conference, people were already preparing themselves for the news that the state might be going backward into phase two restrictions.

That could mean a return to life in May and the closure of some businesses that had only just begun to get back to a semblance of normal.

Instead, Cooper chose a different strategy — one that requires people to take personal responsibility for the health and well-being of others and one that will lean heavily on local law enforcement to enforce.

People now are asked to wear a mask in just about every indoor setting, including when actively exercising indoors. That means masks on for the entirety of a gym visit. People must also wear a mask in some outdoor settings where they cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance from others, which could include an afternoon walk on the Salisbury Greenway when there are a number of other people around.

Notably, retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet of indoor space must have an employee ensure face covering compliance at the entrance — a job that will no doubt become testy at times because people have been nonsensically opposed to wearing masks from the start and feigned a freedom that means potentially spreading a deadly virus to others.

Previously, Cooper’s order targeted businesses for fines if they were found to be in violation of mask-wearing rules and imposed few penalties for individuals. That changed Monday.

Cooper’s order sets up a framework for individuals to be charged with a class two misdemeanor crime (similar to disorderly conduct) if he or she fails to abide by mask-wearing requirements. But it’s key to note that the executive order says law enforcement officers “may cite” an individual, leaving it up to their discretion and decreasing the chances that someone might be cited only for walking down a crowded street without a mask on.

It’s equally important to consider how local law enforcement have handled violations of Cooper’s executive orders to date.

In March, when a stay-at-home order was in place, Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes said officers would primarily be focused on detecting and preventing crime, but that they would respond to large gatherings if reported by the community. Months later, in September, Stokes said officers hadn’t cited any businesses for mask-wearing violations and that his department’s response “has been to educate for compliance.”

Similarly, Maj. John Sifford, of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies would start with issuing warnings to rule-breakers if there were executive order violations. The Sheriff’s Office ended up citing some people for violating the stay at home order, but that was only because they were accused of committing other crimes at the time. It has taken a similar route to the police department on mask-wearing rules.

There’s no reason to believe either department will act differently with the new rules, but Salisbury and Rowan County residents should realize that it’s time to keep the mask on in some additional places. Those who still don’t own a mask should put one on so that the state isn’t forced to go back to more severe restrictions and so businesses aren’t forced to close again.

It’s not about compliance. It’s about protecting the health and livelihoods of the people who live here.



Blotter: Woman faces drug, child abuse charges


County averaging 118 new COVID-19 cases per day in 2021


Political Notebook: Rep. Sasser to chair NC House Health committee in second term

Ask Us

Ask Us: COVID-19 vaccination events have required adaptations, brought frustration


38th Winter Flight Run moves to Mt. Ulla


Cherry, Duren honored during all-virtual MLK celebration


Blotter: Rockwell man charged with statutory rape


Heavy fortified statehouses around the US see small protests


Human Relations Council honors Martin Luther King Jr. with modified fair


Local lawmakers talk priorities for 2020-21 legislative session


From a home office to a global company, Integro Technologies celebrates 20th anniversary


‘Quarantine Diaries’ — Jeanie Moore publishes book as ‘foundation of stories for my family’


‘It pays for itself:’ Study shows economic impact of Mid-Carolina Regional Airport


Gov. Cooper sending another 100 National Guard members to Washington


Rowan County set rainfall record in 2020


Former, current congressmen for Rowan County opposed second impeachment


Biz Roundup: Chamber prepares for January Power in Partnership program


Essie Mae holding COVID-19 testing Monday, recognizes honor Roll


County will have hearing on new ordinance about feeding large animal carcasses to domestic animals


Complaints to BBB up 36% in 2020


Some in GOP talk of chance for coming civil war


More National Guard troops pour into Washington


Kannapolis native Corey Seager agrees to $13.75 million deal with Dodgers


NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas