GEORGETOWN — City council passed a motion to approve an extension to an emergency ordinance requiring masks in certain establishments due to the pandemic at a meeting Thursday night.
“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 any outdoor area where social distancing of 6 feet is possible, anyone whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face mask and children under 10.
The emergency ordinance was originally passed July 2, 2020, and due to its set expiration date being 61 days following enactment, the ordinance was extended to December 31. The extension discussed at the Feb. 18 meeting is set to take effect March 1, which is when the December 31 ordinance expires.
The emergency ordinance will now extend through April 30.
Mayor Brendon Barber said that on behalf of the city, council members should act as models and wear their masks in public.
“We know from our medical experts and our scientists that these masks will help decrease the infection rate,” Barber said. “I know personally I’ve been to one too many funerals, and we continue to have a loss of life due to this COVID-19.”
Though South Carolina’s seven day case average has been decreasing since the middle of January, and nationally, cases have been down by 25 percent over the last week, Barber said the ordinance was extended to continue to reduce community spread and keep those numbers down.
"We're also protecting against the new variant because that's an unknown," Barber said. "From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's to Superbowl parties, we're also taking all that into the equation."
When the ordinance expires April 30, Barber said the city council along with its health professional partners will have to reevaluate together if a third extension is necessary based on vaccination numbers in the county, case numbers and other key factors.