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In 2 a.m. vote, NC lawmakers target coronavirus measure on wearing masks in public

A 2 a.m. vote Friday in the North Carolina Senate has some politicians questioning if it’s going to be illegal for people to wear face masks in public, starting in a little more than a month.

The early-morning vote in the Senate came on the same day that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide order making mask-wearing mandatory in public was set to go into effect. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger has strongly criticized that order, which will begin at 5 p.m. Friday.

The hours preceding the mask vote were also filled with numerous other contentious, partisan debates on various executive orders from the governor related to coronavirus and the reopening of bars, gyms, playgrounds, amusement parks and more.

The day’s schedule at the legislature began first thing in the morning Thursday and didn’t end until nearly 3:30 a.m. Friday.

Sen. Chuck Edwards of Henderson County said he and some fellow Republicans have been talking about potential mask-related changes for the future but that there were no details ready to be made public yet.

“I can’t tell you specifically what we are doing,” he said.

The legislature adjourned Friday morning, but left open the possibility of taking more votes next month. If the mask issue doesn’t get resolved then, there could be at least a month when the legality of mask-wearing is unclear, since the legislature currently doesn’t plan to meet at all in August but does plan to come back Sept. 2.

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