MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As COVID-19 cases plateau across the state, city leaders in Myrtle Beach had choices to make when it comes to how much longer masks should be required inside businesses.
“I think we all recognize we are still in an emergency,” Myrtle Beach City Spokesperson Mark Kruea said.
Despite this, Kruea said the city believed it was time to make mask wearing a personal choice.
Across Horry County, the City of Conway is the only one left with a mask order in place.
While city and governmental buildings in Myrtle Beach will retain the mask mandate, businesses are still allowed to enforce their own mandates.
Many are still choosing to do so.
“We’re at the stage over a year where you know what you need to do,” Kruea said.
Dr. Paul Richardson, of Conway Medical Center, said it’s hard to tell exactly when it’s safe for local governments to remove mask mandates, but thinks now is too soon.
“Unfortunately there’s no hard and fast rule, if we get to X we can do Y. That really doesn’t exist,” Richardson said. “Maybe maybe when we get down to a 2% or 2 1/2% community infectivity rate. That might be an appropriate time.”
During a DHEC news briefing Friday, Dr. Brannon Traxler said the agency doesn’t have any official advice for local governments on when it’s safe to get rid of the mandate.
“There is not a hard and fast specific number for a vaccination rate for when we’d say ‘masks do not have to be worn beyond that point,’” she said.
The Myrtle Beach Area of Commerce said they are in support of the city’s decision but are still encouraging visitors to travel responsibly.
“While we’re encouraging businesses to continue to follow CDC health and safety guidelines, discontinuing the mandate on masks allows organizations to make their own decisions based on their particular circumstances,” MBACC President and CEO Karen Riordan said.
“At the same time, we’re sharing with visitors the message to travel responsibly by bringing along their mask when they’re out and about exploring all the fun-filled things to do here at the beach.”