WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A mask mandate is in place for the last big holiday of the summer tourist season for all of New Hanover County, but some businesses in Carolina Beach aren’t strictly enforcing it.
“We went through 4th of July, we went through several other big weekends, summer time down here — every weekend is a big weekend if it ain’t raining,” said Fat Pelican owner Danny McLaughlin. “We’ve maintained really well. Like I said, the individuals that come into Fat Pelican are conscious about it and do it their self.”
Health officials are hoping that the mandate prevents a spike in COVID-19 cases like they saw after the 4th of July.
McLaughlin and his staff are working to keep the bar as clean as possible for customers who come in.
“We have Clorox wipes that we wipe down the bar with. We still do it to prevent [spread]. There’s a HEPA light with a UV filter in the refrigerator. And we just do the best we can to keep it clean. It’s not like it was before with the plexiglass up and overly cautious,” he said.
Several other business owners in Carolina Beach also mentioned that they are not enforcing the mask mandate and are welcoming in customers either with or without a mask. Many reasoned that they need to welcome in as many customers as possible so that they don’t struggle like they did at the beginning of the pandemic.
However, health officials, like New Hanover County’s Assistant Health Director Carla Turner, expect both locals and people visiting to comply with the mask mandate.
“We expect that our citizens and those coming into New Hanover County from other counties, that maybe don’t have a mask rule in place, they understand that they follow our mask rule. In doing that, they’re not just protecting themselves, but everyone around them so we can continue to have those holiday gatherings,” Turner said. “I want this to be gone as much as anybody else does, but I know that we have to put particular measures in place to help mitigate this; it’s not just gonna go away on its own without serious ramifications for the community.”
When asked if the County Health Department will increase enforcement regarding the mask mandate, Turner responded: “Well, the rule is what it is, and it talks about enforcement. Obviously, our first efforts of enforcement are going to be education. Educating people that this is why we’re having you do this and this is why we want you to do this. And it’s our hope that it’s all going to be short term.”
Click here for the mask mandate guidelines.
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