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NC Republicans Pass Bill Banning Masks in Public, Sparking Outrage

Cancer Patients, Others at Risk as North Carolina Republicans Vote to Ban Masks

In a move that has sparked outrage and concern, the North Carolina Senate has voted to ban the wearing of masks in public, even for health reasons, in a bid to unmask protesters.

The bill, sponsored by Republican State Sen. Buck Newton, is a revival of a 1950s law originally intended to target the Ku Klux Klan, and has been criticized for its potential to harm vulnerable individuals, including those with compromised immune systems.

The mask ban, which passed 30-15 along party lines, would effectively remove an exception made during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow people to wear masks for health reasons.

North Carolina GOP Votes to Prohibit Masks in Public, Despite Health Concerns

Republican supporters argue that the ban would help police identify protesters, but Democrats have slammed the bill as an example of Republican overreach.

Sen. Sydney Batch, a cancer survivor, highlighted the importance of masks in protecting vulnerable individuals, saying, “Someone walking around with tuberculosis wants to wear a mask to protect everybody else, is no longer able to do that based on this bill.”

The legislation comes amid a wave of pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses, where students and staff have worn masks to cover their faces.

Democrats have accused Republicans of targeting these protesters, with Sen. Natasha Marcus calling the bill “a desire to score some political points with the anti-mask crowd during an election year, at the expense of vulnerable people.”

The bill now goes to Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who could veto it, but North Carolina Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature, which they could use to override the veto.

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