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Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp said this morning he will not have his deputies issue citations to people who don’t wear masks or businesses which don’t enforce Governor Roy Cooper’s latest executive order requiring facial coverings.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, I have publicly stated that it’s real. It’s not a hoax. On a personal level, I have a 75-year-old mother and 85-year-old stepfather and both have vulnerable medical conditions and as a son I do my part to assist them with activities so they don’t have to be out in the public.”

Tripp said, “I encourage folks to wash their hands and social distance and I encourage people to be careful and take safety precautions.”

He said, however, “We must learn to live with this virus and living with the virus means not cowering to it.”

(The full order can be downloaded by clicking this link)

The governor’s latest executive order, which came out Wednesday, takes effect Friday at 5 p.m. After reading the order the sheriff said, “Your sheriff’s office will not be taking enforceable actions, to wit citations, against people and businesses for not wearing masks.”

Tripp said if a deputy should receive a call anywhere in the county about a violation of the executive order, “We will educate the public on the executive order and that’s what we’re going to do. I swore an oath to protect and defend the constitutions of this country and state. The wearing of a mask is a personal decision — not one of a governor in Raleigh.”

Tripp said he believes Cooper’s latest order is unenforceable and contains a list of medical exemptions where people are encouraged by his own quote in the document to be on the honor system when it comes to medical conditions which exempt some people from wearing a mask. “I feel a deputy cannot ask a person about their medical condition because of HIPAA — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. I highly encourage citizens to obtain and read the medical conditions contained in the order.”

Tripp said on a personal level, “When I and my wife are out and about in public and social distancing is impossible, we will wear masks and abide by business owners’ restrictions that masks be worn, but I will not cite anybody because I feel it’s a violation to their constitutional rights.”