Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced the city will keep its mask in place for the holiday season in preparation for another surge of COVID-19. 

“After reviewing local data and national trends, I have decided that now is not the right time to relax the mask mandate,” Baldwin said in a statement Friday.

The mandate requires residents to wear masks indoors in public spaces, businesses, and on city busses. Baldwin said city staff has been reviewing recent metrics when evaluating whether or not to lift the mandate, as other municipalities have done.

When Raleigh began considering ending the mandate, Baldwin said cases were on the decline. That isn’t the case anymore. As of Friday, there were nearly 4,000 new cases reported with a nearly 8 percent positivity rate among those tested for the virus. About 1,600 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19, and since the start of the pandemic, more than 19,000 people have died after contracting the virus.

“The COVID spike after the Thanksgiving holiday, combined with concerns over the omicron variant, require that we must remain cautious,” Baldwin said. “We expect an additional spike after residents participate in Christmas and New Year’s celebrations—a trend we have witnessed after every holiday since the pandemic began.”

Baldwin urged residents to get vaccinated if they have not already, or sign up for a booster shot. Residents should also consider getting tested before embarking on holiday travel. 

“We must continue to take this pandemic seriously,” Baldwin said. “Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we work together to keep our families and friends safe.”

Learn more about the city’s mask mandate here. 

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Follow Senior Staff Writer Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com.