COVID-19 rules for Charleston City Council meeting spark protests

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 3:14 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:33 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Protesters gathered outside city hall to fight back against COVID-19 rules at a Charleston City Council meeting Tuesday night.

City officials held the first in-person meeting in council chambers since the omicron surge. Officials said that the meeting would require extra COVID precautions.

The agenda says that due to an increase in cases and the omicron variant, it is strongly recommended citizens watch the meeting on the city’s YouTube channel and participate virtually.

If people do want to attend in person, they will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours as well as a valid ID. Masks must also be worn at all times.

City Emergency Management Director Shannon Scaff says the City of Charleston employees are feeling the effects of the omicron variant.

“What you’re seeing tonight with city council is just one way we’re trying to remain prudent, vigilant, and address this risk that we have,” Scaff said.

City spokesman Jack O’Toole says 141 city employees are currently out because of COVID. Scaff says about half of those out of work are first responders.

“This variant is out there and is alive and well. And the City of Charleston employees are feeling the effects of that,” Scaff said.

The rules sparked the planning of a protest on Tuesday at City Hall. Activist J.T. Bessinger, who spread the word about the protest, said these requirements are unfairly excluding a group of people based on their medical choices.

“Anything where you’re excluding a group of people because of some immutable fact about themselves, or their medical condition or anything like that I find that repugnant,” Bessinger said.

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