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Department of Health News

Buncombe County Aligns with State, Ends Social Distancing, Capacity Limits, Mask Mandates in Most Settings


In accordance with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 215, social distancing requirements, capacity limits, and mask mandates in most settings have been lifted in Buncombe County. Masks will still be required in schools, healthcare, transportation, childcare, correctional and detention facilities, and homeless service settings. In addition, private businesses may require face coverings for employees and guests. Unvaccinated individuals are recommended to continue to wear face coverings.

“On May 22 of last year, Buncombe County became only the second county in North Carolina to require masks to be worn in all indoor public settings,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman. “These early actions helped our community maintain a lower rate of COVID transmission, illness, and mortality. We thank all the members of our community who have tirelessly supported these efforts. With the widespread availability of safe and effective vaccines, Buncombe County will align with the updated CDC and North Carolina policies.”

At Buncombe County facilities, face coverings will be required in healthcare settings, which include medical appointments at the Family Justice Center, Department of Health and Human Services, Employee Health Center, and COVID-19 vaccine clinics. The Buncombe County Courthouse will continue with their present protocols in place.

The Board of Commissioners had previously moved to return to in-person public attendance at meetings beginning in June, but with the new Executive Order, members of the public will be allowed at the May 18, Board of Commissioners meeting.

“Over the last year, these measures have helped us keep our community safe, and coupled with increased vaccination rates, we have seen our local indicators decrease over time,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “While it’s welcomed that the restrictions have been lifted, COVID-19 is still among us and this underscores the importance of getting vaccinated so we can continue to further protect ourselves and our community. Each vaccine so far has helped us get to this point. Every vaccine going forward will get us one step closer to ridding ourselves of COVID-19.”

This week, vaccines became available to anyone 12 years and older. Go to https://myspot.nc.gov/ to find vaccine providers. There is no cost to receive the vaccine, and there is vaccine widely available. Go to www.buncombeready.org to schedule an appointment or learn more.