Town of Kiawah Island passes face mask ordinance

Town of Kiawah Island passes face mask ordinance
The Town of Kiawah Island has passed an ordinance which requires people to wear face masks in certain public areas including restaurants. (Source: Live 5/File)

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Town of Kiawah Island has passed an ordinance which requires people to wear face masks in certain public areas including at businesses and clubs.

The ordinance goes into effect at noon on Wednesday, July 1.

Patrons and employees at businesses, clubs and association facilities must wear a face covering at all times including when entering or while waiting to enter.

For indoor and outdoor restaurants, all employees who directly interact with the public must wear a face covering. People must also wear a face mask when entering a restaurant, waiting to enter or to be seated, and waiting for take-out. Patrons do not have to wear a mask while seated for dining or beverage service.

The town released the following additional information:

There are certain exceptions for young children, persons with certain health issues that prevent the wearing of a face covering, and for persons in private offices. The Town’s Code Enforcement officers will be responsible for educating the public about the new requirements and assisting our businesses with enforcement as necessary. We anticipate a high degree of voluntary public cooperation, but refusal to comply with these requirements will result in a $25 fine to an individual and $100 to a business.

Ordinance 2020-06 does not mandate the wearing of face coverings in open public areas such as parks, pedestrian paths, boardwalks, or the beach, although the Council members considered this at some length. Regardless, we strongly recommend and encourage the use of face coverings where six-foot social distancing is difficult to maintain and will include that recommendation in future public communications.

We all hoped that as South Carolina and Kiawah Island reopened their businesses we could do so without seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.  Our local businesses have taken many steps to ensure customer and employee safety.  Despite these precautions and all of the guidance offered to the public about how to control this pandemic, the rise in confirmed cases statewide and in the Charleston area shows we are on the wrong track. Social distancing is still the key to avoiding exposure to the virus. Successfully practicing social distancing has become more difficult because of greater numbers of people in our public areas and businesses and, unfortunately, the disregard being shown by some. 

Like many, I don’t especially enjoy wearing a face covering, yet I strongly believe that we need to take this action to address the increased risk to our community. Kiawah has avoided the most severe impact of this virus so far, we think, and it would be foolhardy to risk your health, your neighbor’s health, and risk shutting down Kiawah ' s economy all over again, just to avoid an occasional inconvenience. I have no idea what more is going to be thrown at our community in the ensuing months. I do know that whatever arises will require all of Kiawah - our governing entities, property owners, businesses, and visitors – to be aligned and committed to keeping ourselves and each other safe.

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