Edisto Beach County Council adopted an emergency ordinance on June 29 in a 4-1 vote requiring that face coverings be worn for 60 days in the Town of Edisto Beach during the Covid-19 public health emergency.
The town took these steps to try to protect the citizens, employees, and visitors from increased risk of exposure by asking everyone to wear face masks. Anyone entering restaurants, business establishments which sell prepared food and beverages, retail stores, salons, barber shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and pharmacies must wear masks. These businesses were determined by council as places where the public may be indoors in large numbers, particularly due to the relatively few number of these businesses in the town versus the increased tourist season population.
Guidelines are as follows:
Face coverings include, but are not limited to, bandanas, medical masks, cloth masks, scarves, and gaiters, provided that they are worn such that they securely cover the person’s nose and mouth.
All persons entering a restaurant, business establishment which sells prepared food and beverages, retail store, salon, barber shop, grocery store, convenience store, gas station, and pharmacy in the town shall wear a face covering at all times while inside the business establishment unless exempted.
All restaurants or business establishment which sell prepared food and beverages, as well as retail stores, salons, barber shops, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies in the town, shall require their employees to wear a face covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public unless the employee is exempted.
Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:
Any person who is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, an underlying health condition, or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others is exempt from this ordinance. Other exemptions include:
a. While drinking, eating, or smoking;
b. When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services;
c. For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering;
d. When a person is 10 years of age or younger.
e. While actively exercising alone
f. While at home or in a vehicle
g. While on the beach, but social distancing is required.
Failure to comply
A person who fails to wear a face mask will be guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $25.
Businesses that fail to comply will be guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $100. Each day of a continuing violation will be considered a separate and distinct offense.
Repeated violations of this ordinance by a person result in the suspension or revocation of any occupancy permit or business license issued to a business where the repeated violations occurred. Repeated violations of this ordinance are also considered a public nuisance, which may be resolved by restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction, or other means provided by law.
According to Mayor Jane Darby, S.C. law empowers council to enact emergency ordinances affecting life, health, safety or property. On June 24, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson issued a public written statement saying that municipalities in South Carolina may lawfully enact emergency ordinances requiring the wearing of masks as a measure to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and that generally these ordinances do not violate constitutional rights.
At the City of Columbia council meeting on June 23, which was been broadcast via YouTube, Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist, said “We are now a state on the national picture among a handful of other states considered to be hot spots” and that 42% of all reported positive cases, since the start of reporting to SCDHEC in March, have been in the last two weeks. Bell considers this is a very troubling trend that not enough people are taking this pandemic seriously enough or adopting the measures that have been recommended such as mask wearing. She said that masks have an important role in stopping the spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and SCDHEC advise the use of cloth face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19, and taking measures to control outbreaks minimizes the risk to the public, maintains the health and safety of the town’s residents, and limits the spread of infection in communities and within the healthcare delivery system.