City of Myrtle Beach drafts executive order for potential mask requirement

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The City of Myrtle Beach has drafted an executive order that would require masks inside retail businesses, restaurants, and accommodations businesses if approved by council.

This executive order is only a draft and is subject to change when discussed by council on Thursday, according to city spokesperson Mark Kruea. If passed, individuals would be required to wear a “uniform piece of cloth, fabric, or other material that securely covers a person’s nose and mouth and remains fixed in place without the use of one’s hands,” including “bandannas, medical masks, cloth masks, scarves, and gaiters,” when in a public place.

Several other coastal communities in South Carolina have passed a similar mask ordinance, including Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island. On the Grand Strand, North Myrtle Beach leaders are also expected to decide on a mask requirement in the city Tuesday.

“I think it should be enforced,” said Antonio Deas, who was visiting Myrtle Beach from Florence. “Anything we can do to reduce the coronavirus, I think we should actively enforce it.”

“I don’t think they should,” said Tawanda Fulton, who’s from Moncks Corner and on a family vacation. “I think it should be an individual choice, but like they say, at the end of the day, it’s for safety.”

The face coverings would be required to be worn inside restaurants and retail businesses, in common areas of “overnight accommodations establishments,” including all staff members in areas open to the public and social distancing can’t be followed, according to the drafted resolution.

Face coverings would not be required in personal vehicles, for pedestrians observing social distancing in a group of less than 10 people, people alone in an enclosed space, during outdoor or indoor physical activity, or on beaches as long as social distancing is followed, among other things, the draft states.

Any person violating the order or any business not requiring employees wear face coverings can be punished by a fine not exceeding $100. Each day of a continuing violation will be considered separate offenses.

Repeated offenses of failing to require employees to wear face coverings could result in the suspension or revocation of occupancy permits or business licenses. By also repeatedly failing to require employees to wear face coverings will be declared a public nuisance.

Establishments are responsible for requiring face coverings of employees, but not for customers, the draft states. If passed, the executive order would take effect July 2 at 11:59 p.m. and will remain for 60 days or until rescinded, whichever is first.

Mayor Brenda Bethune and council members Jackie Hatley and Gregg Smith have told News13 they support a mask mandate for public places.

“If we don’t do anything and the infections continue to go up, we’re going to have a much bigger problem on our hands,” Smith said.

While Smith says it would be impossible to make everyone wear a face covering, the ordinance could cause people to make safer choices.

“The main goal is to get more people wearing masks, which will protect the population, which will lower the spread,” he said.

A Myrtle Beach Police Department spokesperson says it’s unclear what MBPD’s role would be if the ordinance passes and the department is hoping for more information at Thursday’s council meeting. The MBPD spokesperson also says enforcement would likely be similar to other orders during the pandemic.

We are still waiting for a response from the other four council members.

Count on News13 for updates.

Read the full draft below (app users may need to click here):

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