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State Easing Outdoor Mask Mandate and Mass Gathering Limits

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Note: The following is information provided by the state and Orange County Health Department.

North Carolina is easing the mask mandate outdoors and increasing mass gathering limits in an executive order that takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday, April 30.

The order expires at 5 p.m. June 1. At that time, the state expects to lift additional COVID-19 restrictions if more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols in May.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news conference Wednesday. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”


Under Executive Order 209:

  • Masks will be required indoors but not mandated outdoors. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services still strongly recommends the use of masks outdoors in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult.
  • Mass gathering capacity limits will increase to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.
  • Larger venues, auditoriums, amphitheaters, arenas, and other venues for live performances may be eligible to admit guests at a higher capacity provided the venue receives pre-approval of its health and safety plan from the Department of Health and Human Services.


The state is striving to get two-thirds of adults at least partially vaccinated. More than 7 million doses have been administered; and of those ages 18 and up, 48.7% are partially vaccinated and 39.2% have been fully vaccinated.

Vaccines are free and widely available across the state, often without the need for an appointment.

“In Orange County, we have enough vaccine for everyone,” Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said. “Everyone age 16 and up is eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine. We have walk-in and pop-up clinics every week that are convenient for our community members. No ID or insurance are required.”

For self-scheduling of appointments through the Orange County Health Department:

  • Online ― Visit Search for ZIP code 27278, and choose a time and date.
  • Phone ― Call 919-913-8088. The phone line is operated daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with Spanish and other languages available.

The state maintains a complete list of vaccine providers. Visit or call 888-675-4567. Additional area providers are:

Walk-in and pop-up clinics

The Orange County Health Department offers walk-in vaccine clinics every week at the Whitted Human Services Center, 300 W. Tryon St. in Hillsborough:

  • Mondays and Thursdays ― 2 to 7 p.m. (No clinic on April 29.)
  • Wednesdays and Fridays ― 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The department also is hosting these upcoming pop-up vaccine clinics:

  • May 1 ― 9 a.m. to noon at Rogers Road Community Center, 101 Edgar St. in Chapel Hill.
  • May 7 ― 4 to 7 p.m. at Lakeview Mobile Home Park, 1000 Weaver Dairy Road in Chapel Hill.

See the Health Department’s vaccine page for updated information on the vaccine clinics.

Related documents

Document Executive Order 209  

Document Frequently asked questions