Gov. Roy Cooper to ‘encourage’ end of mask mandates

Gov. Roy Cooper at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper will call for an end to local mask mandates at a 3 p.m. news conference, according to tweets from his staff on the matter Thursday morning.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve continually evaluated safety measures to know what’s needed at that moment. Given declining numbers & available vaccines, the Governor will encourage ending local mask mandates,” wrote Gov. Cooper’s Communications Director Ford Porter.

The shift in mask rules comes as one day after Mecklenburg County announced it would lift its own mask mandate.

Republicans in the General Assembly are also advancing legislation to end forced masking in the state’s schools, with votes coming as soon as Thursday afternoon on a measure supported by House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain).