GEORGETOWN — City council voted 5-2 at a virtual workshop Tuesday to renew its mask mandate for "certain establishments."
This is the city's third renewal. The original city mask mandate was passed July 2, 2020, and this renewal will expire July 30 or when the governor's state of emergency ends, whichever comes first.
Council also has the ability to rescind the mandate before July 30 if they wish, city attorney Elise Crosby said.
According to DHEC, Georgetown County has been seeing a steady decrease in cases since January, and has not seen more than 71 cases in a week since the week of March 6. Neighboring Horry County has also seen a steady decline in cases since January, but reported 656 cases the week of March 6.
“Certain establishments” means face coverings are required while a person is inside any retail or food establishment, including employees and patrons, except when patrons are eating inside a restaurant. Exceptions to this ordinance include:
- Children two years old or younger
- Children whose guardian can't place the mask safely on the child’s face.
- A person talking to someone who is hearing impaired and needs to see the person's mouth.
- A person with a physical, mental or behavioral health condition or disability including trouble breathing
- A person who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to put on or remove a mask without help
- A person eating, drinking or obtaining a service that requires access to or visibility of the face.
- A person who is exercising
- A person who is driving alone or with someone they live with
- A person who is voting or assisting with the administration of an election (wearing a mask is still strongly encouraged)
- A person who must remove a mask for identification, security screening or surveillance.
- A person whose job makes it unable for them to wear a mask safely in accordance with federal, state or local regulations or guidelines
Before the vote, councilwoman Carol Jayroe pointed out that if the mandate was renewed, the city and county would not be in line with one another, as Georgetown County's mask mandate is set to expire Tuesday night. Jayroe also said that she is unsure there will ever be a time when the city has zero cases, and that it should consider relaxing its mandate.
"It certainly is a voluntary situation for every individual, it should be voluntary for every business to decide if they want to enforce a mask ordinance in their own business," Jayroe said. "I just feel like we need to follow what the county's doing."
Mayor Brendon Barber has, for months, said he follows advice from county and state medical professionals rather than public opinion. Councilman Jonathan Angner asked Barber Tuesday night the name of the medical professional he said he has been consulting with on COVID-19 related issues, and Barber said this person does not want their name released without permission from their authority.
Jayroe and Angner were the only "no" votes on council, with Barber, Clarence Smalls, Al Joseph, Tupelo Humes and Hobson Milton voting "yes."