Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Proposed North Carolina law would make it illegal to wear masks in public

By 37ci3 May17,2024



Republican senators in North Carolina on Wednesday passed a bill that would repeal a pandemic-era law that allowed masks to be worn in public for health concerns.

legislative proposal called “Unmasking Mobs and Criminals” billIt passed 30-15 along party lines, allowing an exemption for wearing masks in public for anyone concerned about their health or the health of their loved ones, despite opposition from some Senate Democrats to amend it.

The main focus of the bill is to strengthen the penalties for people who wear masks during crimes, including deliberately blocking traffic during protests and demonstrations.

“It’s time for this madness … to at least slow down, if not stop,” Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican who introduced the bill, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

He could not be reached for further comment Thursday afternoon.

Democratic Sen. Natasha Marcus said Thursday the bill endangers public health and turns law-abiding people into criminals.

“It makes it a crime to wear a mask to protect yourself or others from infectious diseases,” Marcus said.

He said he’s heard from constituents who want someone to listen to them when they say, “I’m immunocompromised, or I have a family member, or I’m going through chemotherapy, or I have a disability.” There are many reasons why people need and have the freedom to wear masks to protect themselves.”

The latest version of the bill, which has returned to the House of Representatives, where it was originally proposed and is still subject to change, repeals “health and safety exemptions from certain laws that prohibit the wearing of masks in public.”

“Individuals will no longer be able to wear masks in public for health or safety reasons,” according to the bill.

The ACLU of North Carolina opposes the bill, calling it “deeply troubling, undemocratic and unconstitutional.” The organization said the bill was a response to “pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses.”

“When we look at the behavior that legislators have shown in support of the bill — law enforcement interference, law enforcement raids and damage to public property — we know that these are already illegal. That being the case, what is this bill really about?” the statement says, adding that it is “about suppressing the opposition”.

Supporters of the bill argued that it was necessary in response to demonstrations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that turned into police clashes and arrests.

There are protests and camps appeared at college campuses After Hamas attacked Israel in October. While most of the campus demonstrations were peaceful, there were occasional clashes between police and protesters, some of whom wore surgical masks.

On Tuesday, Newton said he expected authorities to use “good common sense,” brushing aside concerns that the exemptions on masks were too broad during the pandemic.

“We didn’t see a grandma get arrested at Walmart before Covid,” he said when introducing the bill in the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Marcus said Thursday that putting the onus on law enforcement to use discretion is wrong.

“That’s not how criminal law should work. It’s either a crime or it’s not,” he said, adding that passage of the bill by Senate Republicans was nothing more than a culture war vote.

“They’re clearly trying to feed red meat to the anti-vax, anti-science, anti-mask base with this bill,” Marcus said. “I think it was initially sparked by student protests on various campuses across our state. But the fact is, if they were just trying to address these student protests, they didn’t need to ban masks for everyone.”

According to Destin Hall, chairman of the House Rules Committee, the masking bill will likely pass through several committees before reaching the House floor, which could take a week or two.

Republicans have supermajorities in both the House and Senate. Marcus said if the bill passes the House, he hopes Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will veto it.

No one from Cooper’s office could immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

The health exception added Mainly along bilateral lines at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The repeal would restore public masking rules to their pre-pandemic form — enacted in 1953 to address a different issue: curbing Ku Klux Klan activity in North Carolina. 2012 book By David Cunningham, professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Stacey Staggs, 47, of Charlotte, has twin 10-year-old daughters who are immunocompromised because they were born prematurely.

Staggs said Thursday that one of the twins was on a ventilator for 88 days after birth, giving him chronic lung disease and a tracheostomy to help him breathe better.

“The things that hit us a little bit took a toll on him and it’s going to take weeks or months to heal,” Staggs said.

Staggs said she wears a mask every time she goes out in public, as do her daughters.

“I’m beside myself. I can’t imagine we’ve come to a point where protecting individual health and safety is a criminal act.” “There is no crime in my lifestyle or actions.”



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