“The order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household,” Cooper’s office said in a statement.
The new executive order amends a previous order to require face coverings indoors "if anyone else in that space ... is not a member of the same household." Indoor gatherings will be capped at 10 people, and outdoor gatherings at 50.
The order also adds mask requirements in gyms, schools and vehicles, both public and private, even while adhering to social distancing of at least six feet. Large retail stores must place employees at their entrances to enforce mask guidelines and occupancy restrictions.
"I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger," Cooper said in the statement. "This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many."
The new restrictions come as North Carolina sees spikes in both coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations in the last week, according to state health officials.
Sixty-two of the state’s 100 counties are seeing “substantial” and “critical” community spread, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care, whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, the state’s health secretary.
The new rules will remain in place until at least Dec. 11.
More than 339,000 North Carolinians have contracted the coronavirus, and more than 5,000 have died, according to the governor’s office.