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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A Triad mayor announced that he will lift the citywide mask mandate at the end of this month.

Mayor Allen Joines announced Thursday that Winston-Salem’s city-wide mask mandate will be lifted starting March 1.

“This decision is based on several factors that convinced me the mandate can be safely lifted,” Joines said.

“Rescinding mask mandates when COVID case numbers allow is an important stepping-stone to an endemic rather than pandemic approach to COVID. Rather than masking an entire community, the emphasis for wearing a mask is shifted for those who are more vulnerable, including those who are unvaccinated. N95 masks are now in good supply and provide an individual fantastic protection from respiratory viruses including COVID, even when others are unmasked,” Dr. Christopher Ohl said.

Ohl said that until COVID case numbers further decrease, masking indoors remains a good idea in crowds or when personal distancing is not possible. This is especially true for individuals over the age of 75 and for those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions. Those who desire to further protect themselves from COVID should wear a mask, preferably an N-95 or KN-95, as they deem appropriate. 

Per federal law, masks will still be required on public transportation including city buses. Additionally, Joines said, businesses, churches and other organizations may make their own requirements as to masks or other COVID-related requirements.