Skip to main content

Indoor Face Covering Requirement Extended Until Feb. 16, 2022

Update Feb. 15, 2022

At its Feb. 15 regular meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners moved to allow the face covering requirement to expire at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 16. While face coverings in public indoor spaces are no longer required, public health officials strongly recommend them in crowded indoor spaces.

Even as the requirement expires, businesses and organizations may continue to require face coverings. Determinations about face coverings for schools will be made by the local Boards of Education. The Buncombe County Courthouse will continue to require face coverings. A federal mask requirement for public transportation remains in place through March 18, 2022.

At the following Buncombe County Government facilities, face coverings will continue to be required until further notice:

All public-facing Health and Human Services operations, including those at 40 Coxe Ave. and 35 Woodfin and the Family Justice Center
The Buncombe County Detention Center

All other Buncombe County Government facilities will strongly recommend face coverings.

Update Jan. 4, 2022

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has extended the countywide face covering requirement for all indoor public spaces through Feb. 16, 2022. The indoor mask requirement also extends to Asheville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Town of Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin.

In Buncombe County, COVID-19 case rates continue to be high, and per the CDC definition, the County remains an area of high transmission. The percent positivity remains in the moderate category, and the death rate remains in the substantial category. 

Click here for the new order.

Oct. 28 Update Indoor Mask Requirement for Public Spaces Extended Through Nov. 30

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has extended the countywide face covering requirement for all indoor public spaces through Nov. 30, 2021. The indoor mask requirement also extends to Asheville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin. 

Click here for the new order. 

In Buncombe County, COVID-19 case rates continue to be high, and per the CDC definition, the County remains an area of high transmission. The percent positivity remains in the moderate category, and the death rate remains in the substantial category.

“Vaccine eligibility for 5- to 11-year-olds is expected by the first week in November,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “Face coverings provide an added layer of protection and by extending the indoor face covering requirement through Nov. 30, we are helping to potentially protect these children during the vaccination process.”

Free COVID-19 vaccines are available to anyone 12 and older at Buncombe County Health and Human Services by appointment or walk-in between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville. No ID is required. Learn more at

Sept. 21, 2021 Update-Mask Mandate Extended

At its Sept. 21 meeting the Board of Commissioners approved an order extending requirements for face coverings in public spaces. This order shall remain in effect until Oct. 29, 2021 or unless otherwise repealed, replaced, or rescinded, and may be extended based on data trends. Read or download the entire order below.

Aug. 18, 2021 Update

Masks Required Indoors in Buncombe County

At its Aug. 18 emergency meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners declared a Local State of Emergency requiring residents and visitors in any indoor spaces in public spaces to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others. Effective immediately, indoor public spaces include business establishments, offices and workplaces, public transportation facilities and vehicles, and any indoor place the public is invited and allowed to enter and gather. The order applies to all people who are at least 5 years old, and face coverings are recommended for all people over the age of 2. 

The mask requirement currently extends throughout unincorporated Buncombe County as well as the municipal limits of the City of Asheville, the Town of Montreat, the Town of Woodfin, and the Town of Weaverville. 
Worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights are exempt from the requirement of this order. 
The full order is attached. 

June 15, Update

The Board of Commissioners rescinds the local state of emergency, effective immediately.

May 14, 2021 Update

Governor Roy Cooper has issued Executive Order 215, easing most COVID restrictions. Click here for the latest. 

April 28, 2021 Update

On April 28, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper, citing stable key COVID indicators and metrics, signed an Executive Order outlining safety measures for the month of May. Executive Order 209 will take effect April 30 and is set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1. 

Under the new order, masks will still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks are still strongly recommended outdoors by NC DHHS in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult. 

EO 209 will also increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

FAQs for Eased Restrictions Under Executive Order 209

March 23, 2021

On March 23, 2021, Governor Cooper announced the state will further ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order 204 becomes effective Friday, March 26, 2021, at 5 p.m., and will remain in effect until April 30, 2021, at 5 p.m. unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded. The major changes include:

  • The restriction on the late-night sale of alcohol for on-site consumption is lifted.
  • Capacity limitations on all businesses are increased, as detailed below.
  • The cap on the number of individuals who can gather at any one time in certain indoor spaces, such as bars, is lifted.
  • The mass gathering limit increased to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.  

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for Executive Order 204

Feb. 25, 2021 Update

On Feb. 24, 2021, Governor Cooper announced the state will ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions. Executive Order 195 eases certain restrictions, other public health restrictions remain in effect to continue to protect against the spread of the virus. The order becomes effective Feb. 26, 2021, at 5 p.m. 

Executive Order 195 in summary:

  • Lifts the Modified Stay at Home Order established under Executive Order 181
  • Still requires face coverings in all public indoor settings
  • Allows many businesses to operate at 50% capacity
  • Extends onsite service of alcohol until 11 p.m.
  • Lifts the 100-person cap on some businesses that were operating at 30% capacity 
  • Allows some indoor businesses – including bars and taverns, indoor amusement parks, movie theaters, and indoor sports arenas – to open at 30% capacity (with a cap of 250 people)
  • Allows larger indoor arenas with a capacity of more than 5,000 people to open at 15% capacity with no cap (as long as additional safety protocols in place)
  • Increases the indoor mass gathering limit to 25 people (the outdoor mass gathering limit remains at 50 people).


Jan. 27, 2021

On Jan. 27, 2021, Governor Cooper issued several new executive orders. Executive Order 189 further extends the modified stay-at-home order until at least Feb. 28, 2021. Executive Order 190 extends until at least March 31, 2021, the authorization of delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages as an alternative to onsite consumption. Executive Order 191 further extends until March 31, 2021, North Carolina’s moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent. Executive Order 192 reissues certain transportation-related provisions in previous executive orders.

Jan. 26, 2021

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman signed an updated declaration of emergency that aligns with the state’s current declaration. Effective immediately, Buncombe County restaurant capacities will align with the state’s order of 50 percent.  

The decision was made as a result of key metrics showing a significant reduction in the community spread of COVID-19 in Buncombe County.

Jan. 6, 2021

Governor Cooper has extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 p.m.-5 a.m., to last through at least Friday, Jan. 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. Read more details on the Secretarial Directive.

Dec. 31, 2020

Buncombe Commissioners commit to re-evaluating restaurant restrictions before Jan. 22, 2021. 

Dec. 23, 2020

Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, and the Town of Montreat will move to add more stringent measures in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

  • The new local order signed on Dec. 23, 2020, reduces the capacity for indoor dining in restaurants from 50% of the stated fire capacity to 30%
  • Lowers the number for an indoor mass gathering for social gatherings with individuals from outside your household from 10 persons to 2 persons
  • New restrictions are effective as of Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. Read the declaration here

Dec. 11, 2020

Buncombe County officials continue to take proactive steps to keep our community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

NC Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, implemented a modified Stay At Home Order as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reach new heights. Executive Order 181 takes effect on Dec. 11, 2020, at 5 p.m. and is effective until Jan. 8, 2021, at 5 p.m. 

Under Executive Order 181, current precautions remain in place, and major changes include: 

  • Certain businesses and facilities are ordered to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (the “Night-Time Public Closure Period”).
    • This includes restaurants (with exceptions for take-out and delivery, as noted below), bars, entertainment venues, parks, museums and aquariums, certain retail establishments, and other businesses and facilities specified below and in the Order.
  • All individuals in North Carolina must stay at home or the place they will remain for the night between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. (the “Stay at Home Period”) unless an exception applies. • The sale and service of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for on-site consumption between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Events or convenings outside of the home must end by 10 p.m. and guests must leave the establishment and travel home or to the place where they will stay for the night.
  • The capacity limitations on certain businesses, indoor and outdoor gathering limits, and other public health measures implemented by previous executive orders are extended through Jan. 8, 2021.

If you have any questions about this new order, please reach out to our Ready Team Monday-Friday between 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Call  (828) 419-0095 or email 

Download Buncombe County's Current  Emergency Declaration



Table: News Item Documents
File NameSizeTypeDate & Time Added
December 23, 2020 136 KB 01/29/2021 3:54 PM
January 26, 2021 141 KB 01/29/2021 3:54 PM
December 20, 2020 Register of Deeds Closure 496 KB 01/29/2021 3:53 PM
December 11, 2020 148 KB 01/29/2021 3:53 PM
November 25, 2020 269 KB 01/29/2021 3:53 PM
September 3, 2020 146 KB 01/29/2021 3:53 PM
August 6, 2020 154 KB 01/29/2021 3:51 PM
July 19, 2020 Register of Deeds Closure 139 KB 01/29/2021 3:51 PM
July 17, 2020 122 KB 01/29/2021 3:51 PM
June 26, 2020 146 KB 01/29/2021 3:51 PM
June 2, 2020 761 KB 01/29/2021 3:50 PM
May 22, 2020 775 KB 01/29/2021 3:50 PM
May 7, 2020 823 KB 01/29/2021 3:50 PM
April 30, 2020 1 MB 01/29/2021 3:50 PM
April 8, 2020 492 KB 01/29/2021 3:48 PM
March 25, 2020 962 KB 01/29/2021 3:48 PM
March 19, 2020 Register of Deeds Closure 121 KB 01/29/2021 3:48 PM
State of Emergency Declaration 509 KB 01/29/2021 3:48 PM

Filter News:

Translate Options

Article Information

Updated Mar 07, 2022 11:52 AM
Published Nov 30, 2021 12:00 PM