GEORGETOWN — Georgetown County renewed its mask ordinance — and with support from a supermajority of council.
County Council voted 6-1 to adopt a new emergency ordinance that would extend the mask mandate for another 60 days. Renewing the state of emergency is essentially a requirement for the mask mandate to be in effect.
State law requires a two-thirds majority to pass emergency rules, and Georgetown County Council easily met that tally.
“If everybody wore their mask we’d get rid of this virus in short order,” Council Chairman John Thomas said.
The mandate requires anyone over the age of 10 to wear a mask while in restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores and pharmacies located in Georgetown County. Employees must wear masks as well. The standard exceptions for health, religious beliefs or while consuming food or beverages.
A $25 fine is applicable for those violating the order.
Tuesday’s vote comes on the heels of a few major COVID updates in the area. First, a week ago Horry County Council voted to not renew its emergency ordinance after it became clear not enough council members support it to reach the supermajority mark.
Second, municipalities are continuing to renew their mask mandates. The city of Georgetown renewed its ordinance last week, as did North Myrtle Beach, and Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said on Tuesday the city’s will be extended ahead of its expiration.
Third, as Georgetown County’s Deputy Administrator Wesley Bryant reminded the council, Tidelands Health sent out an alert that they were exceeding capacity in their critical care units. The hospital joined other area healthcare providers in requesting all citizens of the Pee Dee region to mask up and get a flu shot.
Councilmember Raymond Newton, a retired small business owner, was the only vote on Georgetown County Council against the mandate. He said he fully supports everyone wearing masks, but doesn’t like mandating the public do something.
He believes by this point a vast majority of people are going to wear their mask and would likely avoid any businesses not taking precautions seriously without a mandate.
“Sometimes the government makes us do stuff we’d do anyways,” Newton said, while wearing his mask.