HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Horry County Council passed an emergency ordinance that requires people to wear face masks in certain businesses.
Leaders called the emergency meeting at 6 p.m. on Friday, just before the Fourth of July to discuss the hot button issue.
“We are in difficult times right now and difficult decisions have to be made,” said Councilmember Tyler Servant, representing District 5.
Council members spent nearly an hour discussing the issue during the meeting.
Those in favor said requiring masks in certain places is necessary to protect customers and employees, and added that they were concerned about hospitals in the area that are near capacity.
“People are afraid,” said Councilmember Dennis DiSabato, representing District 3. “They’re not happy with a lack of action so we need to do something to protect them.”
Council members against the emergency ordinance said that they felt like they were taking people’s rights away to choose whether to wear a mask.
In the end, council members voted 8-4 in favor of the emergency mask ordinance that is now in effect and will last for 60 days. That is, unless it is terminated sooner by the county council.
Councilman Johnny Vaught, representing District 8, was one of those voting against the ordinance.
“I was against it as a matter of personal liberty,” he said. “I don’t feel [people] should be forced to wear a mask if [they’re] not sick. I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to protect themselves and I don’t think we should have a law to protect them.”
Listen to the full meeting below:
The ordinance states that all customers and employees at retail businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies and hair salons, are required to wear masks.
But when it comes to restaurants, the ordinance shows that only employees are required to wear masks.
Exemptions to the ordinance include:
- Any person who is unable to safely wear a face mask due to age or underlying health condition
- Any person who is unable to remove the face mask without the assistance of others
- Those whose religious beliefs prevent him/her from wearing a face mask
- When law enforcement directs a person to remove their face mask
Anyone who fails to comply could face a $25 fine for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second offense and $100 for the third offense.