CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Atrium Health and Novant Health have updated their masking policies, lifting universal patient, visitor, and employee requirements.

Several regional systems came together in this decision to make masks optional. They include Atrium Health, Novant Health, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, CaroMont Health, Cone Health, and Randolph Health.

Despite the updated policy, healthcare officials said individuals should consider the personal risks in making their own decision to mask.

Patients may request their care teams wear masks during treatment and clinic visits.

Healthcare officials note that certain exceptions to the new policy are still in effect. That includes wearing masks when respiratory virus symptoms are present and in treatment areas for high-risk patients, including those in isolation.

Novant Health will assess risks to people depending on the threat of respiratory viruses. If additional protection is necessary, healthcare professionals may implement safety guidelines, including updating visitor restrictions, masking requirements, and encouraging vaccines.

As always, those with respiratory virus symptoms should stay away from hospitals, officials said. That includes people experiencing fever, headaches/body aches/pain, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Earlier this month, North Carolina healthcare systems relaxed the mask policy for visitors who were 13 and under. Chains like Atrium and Novant cited declining respiratory and flu numbers as a reason for the change.