Marion County business criticized for banning masks inside store

Pee Dee

(Courtesy: Victoria Hampton) The Barn, a luxury home goods store, has been criticized online for its policy banning face masks.

MULLINS, SC (WBTW) — A Mullins business is coming under fire online for its policy banning cloth face masks inside the store.

The Barn, which sells luxury home decor, said the store adopted the policy for safety and insurance purposes.

“A lot of people are handling their masks with their hands and then touching items in our store,” said Victoria Hampton, the store’s owner. “And we cannot stop them from touching their face. When they wear a mask, they are continually touching their face and then our products.”

Hampton said The Barn offers complimentary face shields for customers who want to wear a mask. It also offers private shopping appointments on Sundays.

She said customers are required to wash their hands when they enter. Shoppers also must use the restroom or a tissue when they cough or sneeze.

Hampton said the policy has mostly been received positively.

“I would say that only 1% of people are getting angry,” she said. “Most of the people are enjoying that. Business is booming. They love it because they can breathe.”

Hampton cites state law created prior to the pandemic that bans the wearing of masks or other identity-concealing devices on public property or inside homes or private property unless obtaining written permission from an owner. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has previously said that his office has determined that emergency mask mandates are legal.

Hampton interprets the law as standing even during a state of emergency.

“Nobody has shown me a document to show that we can override that law,” she said. “It is a state law, and that has not been changed.”

A reviewer on Google Reviews and one on TripAdvisor have complained about the policy. Google Review user Mixy the Bunny claimed they were asked to leave because they were wearing a mask, and scbound2016 on TripAdvisor wrote they left the store and won’t return because of the ban. Facebook posts have also criticized the policy.

Hampton said one woman was escorted out of the store and has consistently returned to take pictures despite being told not to do so. Hampton said the woman has been banned from the store.

The city adopted a mask mandate this summer, which has since expired.

Under the mandate, which went into effect on July 21 and lasted for at least 60 days, customers were required to wear face coverings while inside enclosed areas in retail or food service establishments. Employees were also required to wear masks.

Violators faced a fine of up to $100 per infraction.

The city adopted a resolution on Nov. 17 that recommends wearing masks inside of businesses. It expires on Jan. 12, according to Holly Jackson, the town’s interim manager.

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