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NC Senate committee approves restrictions on wearing face masks in public

A silk face mask made by Etsy shop MilleSaisons. The mask is a bestseller on the Etsy e-commerce website.
File: A silk face mask made by Etsy shop MilleSaisons.

A state Senate committee approved legislation Tuesday that would restrict the use of masks in public spaces. The bill comes in response to recent protests on college campuses in which some of the protesters wore face masks.

Republican lawmakers want to restore a 1950s law that limits face coverings. The bill would eliminate an exception passed during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow masks for public health.

Opponents worry the change could affect people who wear masks for health reasons. But Republican Senator Buck Newton doesn't see that happening.

“We didn't see granny getting arrested in the Walmart, pre-COVID. Frankly, I don't think we're going to see that when we pass this legislation," he said, and added, "And I think those that are suggesting otherwise, are stoking fear.”

The bill also includes jail time for protesters who block streets.