Face Coverings

Face Coverings Banner

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According to the CDC, if you’ve been fully vaccinated you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. Their guidance includes:

  • To maximize protection from the Omicron variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. Orange County currently has high transmission
  • Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.
  • If you are unvaccinated it is important to wear a mask in public to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Getting a free, safe and effective vaccine is easy. Learn more. 
  • CDC is recommending universal K-12 mask wearing for all localities regardless of transmission levels.
  • There are no state or county requirements for masks outdoors at this time. In crowded public outdoor settings in which it is difficult to maintain a distance from others, masks can be useful to prevent spreading COVID-19. 

Press Release: Indoor mask mandate continues for Orange County 

En Español

With several key COVID metrics increasing, Orange County will continue its indoor countywide mask mandate. The mandate applies to anyone 2 years and older, regardless of vaccination status.

Orange County is experiencing a surge in new cases, mostly among the unvaccinated, despite having one of the highest rates of vaccination in the state with 71% of the population fully vaccinated. Face coverings will still be required in all indoor public places, including public transportation facilities and vehicles. The mandate will be reevaluated mid-January.

The mandate does not apply to the following individuals:

  • Anyone with a diagnosed medical or behavioral condition or disability, including difficulty breathing.
  • Children under age 2.
  • Children under 5 if a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place and maintain a face covering safely on the child’s face.
  • Anyone who is actively eating or drinking.
  • Anyone who is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible.
  • Anyone who is giving a speech or performance for a broadcast or to an audience where they maintain a distance of at least 20 feet is maintained from the audience.
  • Anyone who is working alone in an individual office setting. Face coverings must be applied when in common areas such as breakrooms, hallways, restrooms, or other areas where additional persons may be encountered.
  • Anyone who has determined the face covering is impeding the person’s visibility in the operation of equipment or a vehicle.


If you feel a business is failing to adhere to the COVID-19 policies, please fill out this form so that an Environmental Health Specialist can work with the business to comply with the requirement:


FAQ About the Mask Mandate

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Video Version of Mask Mandate FAQ
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VIDEO: Environmental Health's Moira Beck explains the Orange County mask mandate. 

Signs for Businesses

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English / Spanish

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English / Spanish

Back to School with a Mask

This year many children are going to school with a new item in their backpack- a mask. Here are some helpful tips on attending school with a mask.Back to school with masks

Make sure they fit!

Fit is important both for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and for comfort. Here are some tips to help get a good fit:

  • Adjustable ear loops can help to fit a mask to your child’s face but remember you will need to help your child adjust the ear loops to the desired length every time they put on the mask. 
  • It is a great idea to send your child to school with an extra mask in case they need to change it out during the day.
  • Often the mask slips down so the nose is not covered. To protect your child and others it is very important to be sure that both the mouth and nose are covered.
  • A lanyard is also very helpful so that they can lower their mask to eat and drink throughout the day.

High Quality Masks

Use the best quality and best-fitting mask you can get, especially in higher risk situations and if you are at increased risk for severe illness. Scenarios that call for better protection can include being in close and prolonged contact with people whose vaccination status is unknown, being in crowded indoor settings, riding on public transportation (especially when you can’t keep distance), and working at a job where you interact with large numbers of people.

The highest quality masks, in order, are:

  • N95, KN95 and KF94. These disposable masks are better at filtering the virus and are more widely available now for the public. Replacement depends on amount of wear. These masks can be more expensive. Beware of counterfeits. 
  • Surgical masks. These disposable masks should be tested to meet a nahow to wear a mask graphictional standard (ASTM 2/3).
  • Cloth maskswithatleast two layers. A disposable mask also can be worn underneath a cloth mask. (Note: N95/KN95 masks should not be layered with other masks.)

Masks that are loose, with gaps around your face or nose, are not as helpful in protecting you or others. For visuals of these tips, visit the guidance for improved mask use from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

If you see someone without a face covering, assume they have a valid reason for not wearing one and increase your distance from that person.

Know That Masks Are Safe for Nearly All Children Over 2 Years Old

Masks are made from breathable materials that will not block the oxygen your child needs. This is because oxygen flows through and around the mask, while blocking the spray or spit and respiratory droplets that contain the virus. Masks will not affect your child's ability to learn or focus in school. The vast majority of children age 2 or older can safely wear masks for extended periods of time, such as the school day or at child care. This includes children with many medical conditions.

How to Get Your Child to Wear the Mask

At this point many children are used to wearing masks. But if your child is new to wearing a mask it is important to modelchild mom and grandparent with mask the behavior that you want to see. If parents are wearing a mask, their children will follow their lead. Children love routine and structure, as well as encouragement. Make packing a mask part of your daily routine, just as you would with a lunchbox and backpack. To encourage them to wear the mask, you may offer a gold star or a small reward each time they do it. It can become a game! Make it fun and personal. You can find fun, colorful masks in many stores. Looks for ones with superhero characters, movie favorites, silly faces, or animal prints. Try several styles until you find one or two that your child finds comfortable.

How to Wear and Take Care of Cloth Face Coverings

Be sure to wash your hands before putting on your face covering and remember to wash them after each use, just as you would do with an undergarment. 



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What is a face covering?

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf or bandana. Make sure your cloth face covering: 

  • Fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face 
  • Completely covers the nose and mouth

How to Use a Face Covering

Face Covering Requirements for Businesses

As of August 11, 2021, face coverings are required for everyone ages 2 and up in indoor public settings. 

Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings. Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings.  (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)

Because children ages 11 and under are still unvaccinated and can easily spread COVID-19, face coverings are still required in child care, children’s day camps, and children’s overnight camps.  

The CDC has advised that face coverings should continue to be required in several health care settings, in transportation settings like airports and bus stations, in correctional and detention facilities, and at homeless service providers. 

Face covering Requirements Subject to NCDHHS Guidance  

•    Schools

•    Child care facilities

•    Children’s day or overnight camps

•    Certain health care settings like long term care centers

•    Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina and North Carolina airports, bus and train stations or stops

•    Prisons and establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

•    Establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

The following establishments, businesses, and institutions are required to follow NCDHHS Guidance with respect to indoor face covering requirements and all other COVID-19 related restrictions and recommendations:  

•    Schools

•    Child care facilities

•    Children’s day or overnight camps

•    Certain health care settings like long term care centers

•    Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina and North Carolina airports, bus and train stations or stops

•    Prisons and establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

•    Establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness

Thank you for Wearing a Face Covering

Thank you for wearing a face covering signage for businesses and public locations

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PDF in English, Español, English/Español, English/Chinese, English/Arabic, English/Burmese, Enligsh/Karen, English/Kinyarwanda, English/Swahili, & Multilingual

Vax Up or Mask Up Signs

Signs for businesses or homes who want to remind visitors that if they are not fully vaccinated, to please wear a mask.

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PDF in English/Español

Signs for Home Use

Week3-1#MaskUPOCNC Campaign

Orange County is excited to announce the #MaskUpOCNC public health campaign.

The artist-designed poster series and corresponding social media campaign will encourage residents to “mask up” in compliance with state and county mandates.

“We know that wearing a face covering decreases the spread of the virus by trapping airborne particles, protecting yourself and others from contamination,” said Penny Rich, chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. “By wearing a mask, you do your individual part to help protect the whole population. You wear a mask to protect others, and they wear a mask to protect you. Mask up, Orange County!”

Orange County artists Mike BensonMarcela Slade, and Bob Goldstein designed a series of eight posters depicting cultural icons encouraging the public to wear a face covering. The posters have been placed across the county.

Starting the week of July 27, residents are encouraged to share photos of themselves on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter wearing their face coverings and using the hashtag #MaskUpOCNC

The project is a partnership of communicators across Orange County and is led by the Orange County Arts Commission, with communicators from the Arts Commission, Orange County Health Department, Orange County Public Library, Orange County Office of Community Relations and the Town of Hillsborough on the committee. To view each work in the series, visit www.artsorange.org/maskup.

Why I Wear a Face Covering                                    

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Want to share your reason for wearing a face covering? 

Send a photo of you in your mask, along with your reason for wearing (or not wearing) a face covering, to: kprelipp@orangecountync.gov.

How can I make a Face Covering?

Sewn Cloth Face Covering instructions

Instructions from the CDC on how to make a sewn face covering are available here.

Non-sewn Face Covering


  • Bandana, old-t-shirt, or square cotton cloth (cut approximately 20” x 20”)
  • Rubber bands (or hair ties)
  • Scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth)

No Sew Mask How To

Make sure your cloth face covering:

  • Fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Completely covers the nose and mouth
  • Is secured with ties or ear loops
  • Includes multiple layers of fabric
  • Allows for breathing without restriction
  • Can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape


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There is a reason behind every mask. Whatever your reason, get behind the mask. Learn more at: ncdhhs.gov/WhateverYourReason

Get Behind the Mask SPA


Hay una razón detrás de cada mascarilla. Cualquiera que sea tu razón, ponte la mascarilla. Aprende más: ncdhhs.gov/CualEsTuRazon

Mask video


How to wear, take off, and care for a face covering to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

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Learn how to make an EASY no-sew t-shirt face mask. All you need is a t-shirt, scissors, something to write with and paper to DIY your own functional face mask. Please note, these are not medical grade face coverings.

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Surgeon General,  Dr. Jerome Adams, shares ways to create your own face covering in a few easy steps.

Face Covering from Tshirt


5 different ways to make a no sew mask out of a shirt as well as instructions for making one from a sock and a sewn mask.

Indoors vs Outdoors


This short video explains the risks of our normal activities and the benefits of masks and distance.

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