Charleston City Council extends mask ordinance to April 14

Updated: Mar. 9, 2021 at 11:18 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston City council members have voted to extend emergency ordinances pertaining to COVID-19 which includes the city’s mask ordinance which has been extended to April 14.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, many people sent in comments asking for city council to remove the mask ordinance.

After getting advice from a medical expert from the Medical University of South Carolina, the majority of council members agreed that restrictions should stay in place a while longer.

“If we don’t keep this down right now it could come back, and a spike can come up and it’ll be worse than it is now,” Councilman Robert Mitchell said. “I hear what the community is saying, but we are looking out for them and ourselves also.”

Some people have been confused about the city’s mandate following Gov. Henry McMaster’s order that lifted mandatory face coverings for bars and restaurants.

Michael Bessinger is the co-owner of Bessinger’s BBQ in West Ashley and believes individual businesses should be able to decide whether to enforce the mask mandate, but his business staff wants to continue wearing face coverings.

“If they continue to issue the mask mandate, it’s the law, and we’ve been in business in Charleston for decades, and you have to do what’s best for our community,” Bessinger said. “We have to do what’s best for our loved ones and staff, but I think we do need to take some hard proactive steps to get away from the mask. Everyone is looking forward to that and that has to happen eventually.”

Councilman Harry Griffin and Kevin Shealy voted against the extension.

Both council members also agreed that the city should move away from the mask mandate.

“With three vaccinations in place and warm weather coming, I think the emergency order has done its job,” Shealy said. “Now that we protected those most at risk, and we have a plan to protect everyone. I think it’s time for us to move forward.”

City leaders will meet on April 13 to discuss the issue again.

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