On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that effective immediately, most mandatory mask requirements are lifted as are all capacity limits in both indoor and outdoor settings. 

Starting at 1:30 p.m. Friday, all mandatory capacity and gathering limits and social distancing requirements are no more. 

"There will continue to be a mandatory indoor mask requirement on public transportation, in child care, in schools, in prisons and in certain public health settings," the governor said highlighting the exceptional places where face coverings must still be worn. He also said some local governments and certain businesses may still require them. 

He stressed the strong recommendations by the N.C. health department for those who are unvaccinated to continue to wear a mask. 

"Certainly anyone who feels better protected or has received advice from a doctor should continue to wear a mask," he said at a Friday afternoon news conference. 

State health department Secretary Mandy Cohen said that wearing a mask at a large, crowded indoor event is still highly recommended, regardless of your vaccanation status. 

The governor enacted the mask mandate in June last year to help curb the spread of the virus. He relaxed the state's outdoor mask mandate the last week of April and laid out plans to end mandatory social distancing, capacity and gathering limits by June 1 but decided to end them early after CDC guidance on masks wearing released Thursday, which eased restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

As of early May, about half of all adults in the state have had at least one coronavirus vaccine shot and about 42% had been fully vaccinated, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,501 new cases Friday ahead of the governor's accouncement. Hospitalizations rose by one to 926, and the death toll increased by nine to 12,862. The percent positive rate fell to 3.8%, and health officials have previously said that a 5% positive number shows things are stabilizing. 


Overall, more than 989,000 North Carolinians have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.