ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Many viewers joined in the conversation on the WMBF News Facebook page about a local police department focusing on face masks during Bikefest.
Atlantic Beach law enforcement told WMBF News biker masks would not be allowed. Chief Tim Taylor said the law does not apply while riding a motorcycle because it can be used as protective gear, but it does apply when one is walking around the town.
The chief said he masks were something he noticed during the 2015 Bikefest, so he will emphasize enforcement this year for security reasons.
"My whole team depend on me, my community depend on me to keep them safe during this weekend, and that's what I am going to do," he said..
Taylor added he expects everyone to abide by the laws.
"We are not going to allow bikers to just walk around Atlantic Beach with masks on; that is something we talked about," Taylor said. "It's a security issue for us, so we want to deal with it. We want to address it."
According to South Carolina law, wearing a mask in public property is a criminal offense.
Section 16-7-110. Wearing masks and the like.
No person over sixteen years of age shall appear or enter upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, public way or highway of this State or upon the public property of the State or of any municipality or county in this State while wearing a mask or other device which conceals his identity. Nor shall any such person demand entrance or admission to or enter upon the premises or into the enclosure or house of any other person while wearing a mask or device which conceals his identity. Nor shall any such person, while wearing a mask or device which conceals his identity, participate in any meeting or demonstration upon the private property of another unless he shall have first obtained the written permission of the owner and the occupant of such property.person over the age of 16 shall appear on public property of the state or any municipality or county in this state while wearing a mask or other device that conceals their identity.
If a person is seen walking around with a mask, Taylor said officers will be vigilant in upholding the law.
"We're going to identify who you are," he said. "We're going to talk with you. It's not to harass you or anything like, it's just for our safety also. It's a safety issue; we want to see who you are."
Bikers like Krystal Dempsey use the masks for protection from insects and inclement weather while riding while riding. However, she said she can understand why law enforcement do not want them worn when off the motorcycles.
"I mean, it's scary," Dempsey said. "If somebody walked up to me with a mask on, and I am in the store or something like that, it would kind of frighten me, and I don't want to put that kind of fear in nobody else. So, I would just take my mask off."
If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, a violator could face a fine up to $500 or up to 12 months in jail.