Kiawah Island town officials voted unanimously to require that masks or other face coverings be worn in restaurant and businesses.
The ordinance goes into effect at noon Wednesday and expires July 28, but has a provision for automatic renewal for another 30 days unless Town Council decides to cancel the extension, according to an amended version of the document. With the extension, mask rules will be in place until Aug. 27.
Council members gathered Monday morning for the two-hour emergency meeting.
After amendments, the mask and face covering rules are:
- All provisions of the emergency ordinance passed June 15 remain in place. They include limiting the number of people allowed inside businesses at a time and requiring business patrons to stay 6 feet apart unless they are part of the same family.
- A face covering or mask means a cloth, fabric or other soft or permeable material that doesn't have holes and covers both the mouth and nose. These include surgical masks, N95 respirators, face shields, bandannas, handmade masks and neck gaiters.
- Anyone entering or waiting to enter a business other than a restaurant, Kiawah Island Club facility or Kiawah Island Community Association facility, including employees, will have to wear a mask or face covering.
- Restaurants will have to adopt and enforce face covering requirements developed by the S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, including all employees who interact with customers, whether for indoor or outdoor dining, must wear a mask or face covering.
- In a restaurant setting, patrons must wear a mask or face covering at all times unless seated at a table for dining service.
- Exemptions from the face covering requirement include children under 3, anyone with a medical condition or disability preventing them from wearing a mask, anyone actively eating or drinking or people in private offices.
- Businesses and restaurants will be responsible for enforcing the mask rules with their employees and be required to post notice of the rules at all entrances and exits.
"Each day of the infraction shall be considered a separate offense," according to the ordinance. Violators could face civil or criminal penalties.
Anyone who violates the ordinance could face a $25 fine plus "required statutory assessments," officials said. Businesses that don't require masks or face coverings for their employees could face a $100 fine plus the statutory assessments.
According to the ordinance, any fines collected by the town for violating mask rules will be donated to a nonprofit organization or charity to be chosen at a later date.
Council members spoke about the coronavirus pandemic after the ordinance passed, many saying that it's important for the public to do their part and care for their health as well as the health of others.
"Most of us thought by now we'd be on the downside of a curve," Councilman Dan Prickett said. "I think everyone realizes how serious this is."
When the pandemic first came to South Carolina in March, Kiawah Island residents followed public health guidelines "to the T," said Councilwoman Maryanne Connelly.
Doing so helped the community avoid major impact from the virus for the first few months after the virus emerged in South Carolina, Connelly said.
But case numbers, hospitalization rates, percentage of positive tests and other markers are trending in the wrong direction, she said.
"Today we were talking about masks, but it's really a much bigger problem than that," Connelly said.