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In response to notifications from the Halifax County Health Department, Sheriff Wes Tripp said today deputies will begin citing business owners or their designees for not requiring their employees to properly wear facial coverings.

“We have received notification from our health director on certain business throughout the county that are not in compliance with the governor’s order concerning the wearing of masks,” Tripp said. “We have had earlier conversations concerning this situation. Deputies have responded to certain locations and issued verbal warnings. The issues at hand are at establishments where the employees are not properly wearing their mask for example they are around their chins or not properly covering their noses.” 

The sheriff said Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order clearly states that it is the business manager or owner’s responsibility to ensure employees properly use face coverings. “It’s also important to know that customers will not be charged for not wearing said face coverings in that business. However, it does state that the owner or business manager could pursue trespassing charges for the customer who refuses to wear a face covering.”

Businesses, Tripp said, must make accommodations for customers who have a physical disability and cannot wear a mask. There are grocery stores which offer curbside service.

Tripp said businesses in the unincorporated areas of Halifax County have been warned of the governor’s order in enforcing the wearing of masks to their employees. “I am not a mask bully,” he said, “But I wear a mask to protect others when I’m supposed to. Any further calls that deputies receive of noncompliance of the mask order, the manager, assistant manager or owner will be charged.”

Meanwhile, the sheriff said he has had six deputies test positive for the novel coronavirus. “We are on the frontline of defense against COVID-19 like other essential workers and since the beginning masks have been provided to our deputies and they have been encouraged to wear them.”

Tripp said since the pandemic the sheriff’s office has substantially restricted admittance to the office. County management has obtained equipment through federal relief funds such as cleaners and sanitizers to do deep cleanings of offices, including the sheriff’s office. “I want everyone to be assured that Wes Tripp takes COVID seriously and I hope our citizens will take more personal responsibility as we battle the COVID-19 virus.”

Said Tripp: “I’ve had six deputies test positive for COVID. It’s not a hoax. It’s the real deal.”

He said operations will continue at the sheriff’s office and there will be no deviation from sworn duties. “There have been several office staff that I have asked to self-quarantine.”

Halifax County Health Director Bruce Robistow said, “I’m very grateful for the support of Sheriff Wes Tripp and all law enforcement officers. Our law enforcement teams are on the frontlines of every situation that may face our citizens. Let’s all pull together so that enforcing the wearing of masks does not infringe upon their other duties. The government’s executive order and the recommendations for masks are simple. We should all be compliant and not wait for law enforcement to use their valuable time to enforce something that we should all be doing.”