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November 1, 2021

Joines Announces Criteria for Lifting Winston-Salem Mask Mandate

With the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Mayor Allen Joines has received numerous inquiries as to what conditions must be met for him to lift the mask mandate in effect in Winston-Salem.

Joines has consulted with Joshua Swift, the director of the Forsyth County Department of Public Health; and Dr. Christopher Ohl with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Infectious Diseases.

“As I stated when I put the mandate in effect, it is my intention to remove it as soon as possible based on conditions agreed upon by the medical and health community,” Joines said. “I have consulted with Dr. Ohl and Director Swift and it is our considered opinion that the mask mandate may be lifted when the following conditions are met within Forsyth County:
• A positive infection rate of 5.0 percent or less for at least two weeks based on a 14-day average; and
• Less than 10 new cases per 100,000 population per day for a five-day average.”

Ohl stated, “If these conditions are met, I will be quite comfortable in the removal of the mask mandate.” Ohl said that based on his review of current trends, he believes these conditions can be achieved by late November and maybe before Thanksgiving.

Swift concurred in Ohl’s projections and urged everyone who has not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. “Vaccination is the single best way that we as a community can contain this virus,” he said. Currently only about two-thirds of the adult population in Forsyth County is full vaccinated.

As of Friday the positive infection rate averaged 5.3 percent over the past two weeks and there was an average of 18 cases per 100,000 population over the past five days, according to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Swift and Ohl encouraged parents to have their school-age children vaccinated as well, including children ages 5 to 11 once they are approved to receive the vaccine. This will assist the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in removing its mask requirement more quickly.

Joines ordered Aug. 20 that a citywide mask mandate be reinstated due to the surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Delta variant. The order, which is still in effect, spells out in detail when and where masks must be worn within the city limits, and the instances when masks do not have to be worn.

The order exempts children under 2 years of age and lists 14 situations that exempt citizens from wearing a mask, including religious beliefs, medical or behavioral conditions or disabilities, and eating, drinking or exercising strenuously. The full text of the order is posted at

COVID-19 Update graphic with coronavirus sketch an
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