Hilton Head Town Council passes required mask ordinance

State - Regional

(Getty Images file photo)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Face coverings will now be required to be worn at all commercial businesses on Hilton Head Island.

The Hilton Head Town Council approved the mandatory mask policy on Monday morning, saying steps need to be taken “now” to protect the island and it’s citizens.

Under the new ordinance, all Hilton Head Island residents, tourists, and some workers will be required to wear face coverings in all commercial areas such as grocery stores, restaurants, bars, pharmacies, and retail stores. The ordinance goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday.

It will be a criminal misdemeanor to violate the ordinance with a penalties of up to a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.

“A mandate should only be used in extreme positions, and that’s where we are,” Councilwoman Tamara Becker said.

Councilman Glenn Stanford claims that 80% of the people who e-mailed the Town’s website to leave comments were in favor of the mask mandate. Councilman Bill Harkins says large local restaurant chains have also said they are in favor of the ordinance.

Sheriff PJ Tanner says he too supports the mandatory mask plan. He says however, it will be “nearly impossible” to enforce on the beaches and with restaurant patrons.

Tanner is urging other municipalities like Bluffton, Beaufort, Lady’s Island, and Port Royal to agree on similar guidelines if they pass a mask ordinance. He says this will make it easier for deputies to enforce.

The City of Beaufort is holding an emergency Town Council meeting at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss a mandatory mask proposal. The Town of Bluffton has the idea on an emergency agenda Tuesday.

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