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BEAUFORT, S.C. (June 29, 2020) – Beaufort City Council today unanimously passed an ordinance requiring face covers for any member of the public who enters a public building, including all stores and restaurants within the city limits. The ordinance also requires employees of such establishments to wear masks.
The ordinance passed at an emergency meeting this morning, and will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 30. It will be in effect for at least 30 days, at which point it will be ended or extended.
Council members said this was a difficult decision, but necessary to protect the overall health and well-being of the community. The City is distributing posters to retail establishments stating a mask ordinance is in effect.
The action was taken following a persistent spike in Covid-19 cases in the both South Carolina and Beaufort County. As of June 28, South Carolina had 1,366 new cases in a 24-hour period, while Beaufort County had 59. The state has recorded a total of 33,221 cases, and Beaufort County stands at 1,121 cases. This follows a similar pattern in southern and western states.
Last week, Beaufort Memorial Hospital CEO Russell Baxley went public with his concerns over the rising numbers of cases in the county, and asked that residents and visitors always wear masks when out in public.
The Hilton Head Town Council passed a similar masking ordinance today at an emergency meeting, and the Town of Bluffton is expected to do so Tuesday. Beaufort County Council is holding a meeting on July 1 to consider a countywide mask ordinance.
The City ordinance states:
1. For the purpose of this Ordinance, a “Face Covering” is a cloth or other type of masking device that covers the wearer’s nose and mouth.
2. All persons entering any building open to the public in the City must wear a face covering while inside the building.
3. All restaurants, retail establishments of every description, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the municipal limits of the City shall require their employees to wear a Face Covering at all times that the employees are in any area where the general public is allowed or when the employees must be in close proximity to one another. This requirement also applies to all persons providing or utilizing public or commercial transportation, including tours; and all businesses or employees while interacting with people in outdoor spaces, including, but not limited to, curbside pickup, delivery, and service calls.
4. The following individuals are exempt from this Ordinance: any person who is unable to safely wear a Face Covering due to age or an underlying health condition, or who is unable to remove the Face Covering without the assistance of others; and any person traveling in a personal vehicle, or when a person is alone or is in the presence of only household members in an enclosed space, and people who are actively drinking or eating. This Ordinance does not relieve business establishments and restaurants from other social distancing requirements impose by the Governor’s Executive Orders.
The ordinance can be read here.
The City is urging voluntary compliance. However, any person who is found to violate this ordinance after an initial warning may be fined $50. Those who observe violations can email the City of Beaufort’s Codes Department: firstname.lastname@example.org.