Myrtle Beach councilmembers weigh in on importance of possible mask mandate before Thursday vote

Myrtle Beach councilmembers weigh in on importance of possible mask mandate before Thursday vote

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach City Council has a big decision to make Thursday morning, whether to approve a proposed executive order that will require people to wear masks inside certain businesses.

As currently written, the city council’s proposed order would require individuals to wear face coverings in retail and food service establishments such as grocery stores, convenience stores, barbershops and hair salons.

The vote on possibly mandating masks comes just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which is considered an “extraordinary event” for Myrtle Beach because of the number of people expected to the flock to the beaches. According to some city leaders, a face-covering mandate could help to ensure those visitors are staying safe and healthy.

Councilmember Gregg Smith said he hopes the executive order passes, stating something needs to be done to encourage more people to take this pandemic seriously and stop the spread of the virus.

“In my view, our visitors are not wearing masks enough,” Smith said. “Myrtle Beach is typically a place people like to get away and forget about their problems. Unfortunately, you can’t forget about the coronavirus, and you can’t get away from it in Myrtle Beach right now.”

Councilmember John Krajc said the mask mandate has definitely been a “hot button issue” for the community, based on the influx of emails he’s receiving about the possible mask mandate.

“We’ve received more emails on this issue I think so far this year than any other issue we faced in the city of Myrtle Beach this year,” Krajc said. “[People have been] talking about whether they’re in favor [of it] or not in favor. We are listening to the community and that is definitely on our minds for tomorrow’s meeting.”

Mayor Brenda Bethune was in the national spotlight Wednesday, addressing the importance of this proposed order on MSNBC, stating she wishes the city had proposed the mask mandate sooner.

Myrtle Beach Mayor talks with MSNBC ahead of city council's mask ordinance vote

“Our hotels opened back up about four weeks ago, I wish we had done it then,” Bethune said. “But we didn’t have the same issues as we do today, so we are seeing increases in cases and I think we have to do this tomorrow.”

Cities across South Carolina have passed similar ordinances in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including North Myrtle Beach City Council which begins enforcing their mask mandate at noon on Thursday.

Myrtle Beach City Council will convene for a special meeting Thursday at 9 a.m., before taking a vote on the proposed executive order to mandate masks.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.