SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Residents and visitors in Surfside Beach will not be required to wear a mask if they visit certain places, unlike many other municipalities up and down the Grand Strand.
The Surfside Beach Town Council held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the mask mandate issue.
They voted to pass a resolution, not an ordinance, that strongly encourages people to wear a face mask when they visit retail stores or restaurants.
Town leaders said the main reason they didn’t pass a mask mandate was the issue of enforcement.
“We realized that we didn’t have the ability or the power to enforce the ordinance, so we made it a strong recommendation,” Mayor Bob Hellyer said after the meeting.
Some councilmembers also said during the meeting they didn’t believe it was the government’s role to force people to wear masks.
Hellyer and other councilmembers said during the meeting that they’ve received lots of emails from concerned residents, asking town leaders to pass a mask mandate.
Despite acknowledging this, the town council still decided not to pass a mask mandate.
Hellyer responded to those people.
“Well, hopefully, they heard the discussion and why we changed from an ordinance to a resolution, and hopefully they’ll understand,” Hellyer said.
Hellyer also didn’t rule out the possibility of town leaders coming back at a later date to revisit the issue of a mask mandate if they deem it necessary.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We can always come back and address it later.”
Moving forward, town leaders will develop what they call a marketing campaign to make people aware of the resolution. They said during the meeting they will probably have flyers put up around town, letting people know that councilmembers encourage mask-wearing.
Councilmembers also voted to extend the town’s emergency declaration for 60 more days.
Several local municipalities recently enacted face mask ordinances, including in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Horry County, Georgetown and Georgetown County.