Beginning on Wednesday, July 1, residents of the city of Charleston will be required to wear face coverings in public areas throughout the city, including Daniel Island and Cainhoy, to reduce risk of exposure to and spread of COVID-19.
Charleston City Council approved an emergency ordinance last week. All but one councilmember, Harry Griffin, voted in support of the ordinance.
The ordinance is broad, providing: “All persons entering any building open to the public in the city must wear a face covering while inside the building.”
It further requires restaurants, retail stores, salons, barber shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, or other buildings open to the public to require their employees to wear a face covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public.
Masks also are required for all public and commercial transportation use (including tours) and in outdoor spaces, including, but not limited to, curbside pickup, delivery, and service calls.
Additionally, masks are required when walking in public where maintaining a distance of six feet between other members of public at all times is not possible, such as when walking in crowded areas like farmers markets,
tourist spots and other areas with high foot traffic.
Face covering exceptions
The city ordinance allows for some exceptions to wearing a face covering. Most notably, a mask is not required if any underlying health condition prevents it; when traveling in a personal vehicles; when alone or with other household members; when in an unenclosed area next to a retail or food service establishment if six feet social
distancing is observed; if religious beliefs prevents face coverings; for children under 10 years old; in private individual offices; or, while actively eating, drinking or smoking.
In regards to exercise outside, a mask is not required when participating in an outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of six feet from other people at all times.
Other exceptions to wearing a mask include in settings where it is not feasible to wear a face covering — such as when receiving dental services or while swimming — or in private, individual offices.
Finally, police officers, firefighters and other first responders are not required to wear masks when it’s not practical or they are engaged in a public safety matter of an emergency nature.
The ordinance is a fine-only offense of $50 and will be enforced primarily via educational efforts by civilian officers with the city’s Livability Department. It will remain in effect for a period of 60 days, unless otherwise terminated.
For a full copy of the ordinance, visit the city’s agenda center online, and look under city council.
Statewide and other Local Municipalities
Governor McMaster has not issued a statewide order requiring face masks, but he has encouraged residents to be responsible and to wear face masks in public. Other Lowcountry municipalities that have passed mandatory mask laws include Hanahan, Mount Pleasant, Folly Beach, Kiawah, Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, Summerville and Isle of Palms. Goose Creek did not pass an ordinance requiring masks but did pass a resolution that strongly encourages residents to voluntarily wear masks.
Other Items Taken Up by City Council
The City Council also extended the COVID-19 state of emergency currently in effect until July 15, 2020. Additionally, several other emergency ordinances related to COVID-19 have been extended, including the temporary suspension of business license penalties.
The city’s temporary suspension of plastic bag ban enforcement has not been extended, and enforcement will resume on July 1.
This story was updated on June 30, 2020 to include the names of additional lowcountry municipalities that passed mandatory mask laws.