GEORGETOWN — After more than a year, residents can again apply to hold special events in the city, Mayor Brendon Barber announced Monday morning.
On March 16, 2020, Barber announced an executive state of emergency order in response to COVID-19. This order banned special events on public property, among other things, including a mask mandate for city residents.
While the mask mandate is still in effect, and will be discussed for possible renewal by city council Tuesday, Barber said this update to the executive order to reopen special event permit applications was made with medical professional and first responder recommendations.
"I don't make any decisions unless I deal with experts. I don't go on public opinion," Barber said.
Applying residents will have to submit a COVID-19 protocol plan for how they will keep the event safe, which will be approved or disapproved by city law enforcement. While there is no clear-cut rule on what this plan must include, Barber advised residents to adhere to CDC guidelines.
As of March 7, 2021, the CDC listed the following as risk factors to consider when planning large events:
- Number of COVID-19 cases in your community
- Exposure levels during travel to event
- Setting of the event — Indoor events, especially in places with poor ventilation, pose more risk than outdoor events.
- Length of the event — Events that last longer pose more risk than shorter events.
- Number and crowding of people at the event — The size of the event should be determined based on whether attendees from different households can stay at least 6 feet apart.
- Behavior of attendees during an event — Events where people engage in behaviors such as interacting with others from outside their own household, singing, shouting, not maintaining physical distancing or not wearing masks consistently and correctly can increase risk.
According to DHEC, Georgetown County is second in the state for vaccine recipient rates, with 5,214 vaccines administered per 10,000 residents. Barber said this high ranking is a reason why the executive order was updated to allow for special events once again, but he urged residents multiple times to follow local and national safety guidelines, continue wearing masks and get vaccinated.
"To protect yourselves, your loved ones and and those visiting our city, please follow the guidelines, because if we create a super spreader (event) then we are right back where we started with COVID-19," Barber said.