Horry County Council votes to keep county’s mask mandate in place

Horry County Council votes to keep county’s mask mandate in place

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County’s mask ordinance will stay in place after a lengthy discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting.

In a 5-7 vote, councilmembers voted to not terminate the mandate that requires people to wear masks in certain places in the county, such as retail stores and restaurants.

Watch the Horry County Council discussion on the mask mandate below:

HAPPENING NOW | The Horry County Council is set to discuss whether to extend or end the county's mask mandate. https://bit.ly/3mqrkHa

Posted by WMBF News on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Before the vote on Monday, every councilmember had the opportunity to make a statement on the mask ordinance.

“I hate it, but I know it’s making a difference,” said councilman Bill Howard.

“That’s your right but don’t force your beliefs on me because I choose not to,” stated councilman Al Allen.

“I’m a little fed up with the idea that we’re somehow being unconstitutional by asking people to do something that makes common sense,” said councilman Dennis DiSabato.

“We’re taking people’s rights away from them,” councilman Johnny Vaught argued.

But after over 30 minutes of discussion, the council voted to keep the mask mandate in place which will remain in effect for 60 days.

Also before the debate took place, chairman Johnny Gardner addressed the consent agenda issue that created controversy during a Sept. 1 meeting.

The emergency ordinance was extended under a consent agenda, allowing council members to vote for every item on the agenda at once without discussion. Councilmembers motioned to have the item taken off the consent agenda and allow for discussion, but the motion failed and the mask mandate was extended.

During the Sept. 1 meeting, Allen called the placement of the emergency ordinance in the agenda a “tyranny,” saying the public needed the transparency of a public discussion.

Allen explained why he believes it’s important to have an open conversation.

“It could be adjusted, amended or it could be a whole new ordinance brought forth, but that’s why it needs to openly be discussed so the public can see where their council members stand on these issues," he said.

Gardner explained that moving forward, if a councilmember wants to take an item off the consent agenda, it will be taken off and Gardner will rule that they will have a debate on the issue.

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