Restaurants react to McMaster lifting statewide restaurant mask mandate

Restaurants react to Gov. McMaster lifting the statewide restaurant mask mandate

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted the two remaining statewide COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

As of Friday, masks are no longer required in restaurants or state buildings per a new executive order.

But now restaurants in unincorporated areas of Horry County, where no local mandate exists, have decisions to make.

“We have St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, it’s actually our busiest month of the year,” said Mary Beth Lamuraglia, assistant general manager of Dagwood’s Deli and Sports Bar.

Lamuraglia said she didn’t expect to hear any news from the governor’s office for quite some time after the Last Call Order, previously stopped alcohol sales in bars and restaurants after 11 p.m., was lifted.

“We just got done telling our staff actually that the only mandate left in the state is the restaurant mask mandate, so it was a little shocking to be honest,” she said.

Since Monday, however, restaurants across the state have been able to serve alcohol and stay open as they normally would.

McMaster then announced Friday that both guests and staff are no longer required to wear masks in restaurants across South Carolina.

Local mandates, such as those in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Conway, are still valid and in place.

But for restaurants like Dagwood’s, located off of Highway 17, they had to weigh their options.

“We are having our staff still wear the masks, because we are afraid that someone would get sick on staff and we’d have to shut down during our busiest season,” said Lamuraglia.

But they won’t require guests to wear them, without the mandate in place. Lamuraglia said there had been some tension in the past when it came to asking some guests to put them on.

While she wants staff to stay safe, she said it’s a relief to no longer have that tension and responsibility put on employees.

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune has voiced her opposition to getting rid of mask mandates since October, when Horry County Council first voted to get rid of theirs.

Bethune added that even with the announcement from the governor, they’re keeping masks mandatory at businesses in Myrtle Beach. She said she doesn’t think enough people are vaccinated in the area for them to lift their local order.

At Dagwood’s, Lamuraglia says even though they’re no longer required, she said many guests are still masking up.

“Today, everyone’s still wearing them on their way in the door,” she said Saturday.

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