Hartsville mandates masks; Darlington defers debate
Hartsville’s plan calls for a $25 fine
By Samantha Lyles
If you’re shopping, dining or conducting business in Hartsville, be sure to bring your trusty face covering of choice or risk a $25 fine.
At the Aug. 11 meeting of Hartsville City Council, members approved an emergency ordinance requiring the wearing of face masks in public areas of the city. This action is in response to the spiking numbers of COVID-19 cases in Hartsville. On the day of this meeting, the 29550 ZIP code represented 197 of the 404 active cases in Darlington County.
The ordinance specifies these situations where masks or face coverings are required:
“All customers are required to wear face coverings while inside the enclosed area of any retail establishment, foodservice establishment or city- owned buildings. All retail establishments shall require staff to wear face coverings while working in areas open to the general public and at all times in which social distancing with other staff is not possible. All foodservice establishments shall require staff who interact with customers (including delivery personnel) to wear face coverings while working.”
Face coverings are not specifically required in these situations:
“In outdoor or unenclosed areas connected to retail or foodservice establishments in which social distancing of at least 6 feet is possible and observed; For people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering; For those who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral condition; For children under 10 years old; For patrons of foodservice establishments while they are dining; In private, individual offices; When complying with directions of law enforcement officers; In settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, including when exercising, obtaining or rendering goods or services such as the receipt of dental services, or while swimming; While exclusively with members of a family or the same household, and no person other than such family or household is within the same enclosed are.”
Customers or employees of establishments found in violation could be fined $25. Establishments found in violation of this requirement could face a $100 fine, with that fine compounding each day as a separate violation.
The ordinance passed without any objections or discussion, and will automatically expire in 60 days (Oct. 11), unless City Council sees fit to extend it.
“The City of Hartsville is committed to providing a safe environment for residents and visitors alike,” said City of Hartsville Public Information Officer Lauren Baker. “City Council is hopeful that by taking this step forward, we will help to keep Hartsville a safe place to live, work, and play while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.”
For now, council tables resolution
By Bobby Bryant
Darlington City Council voted last week to defer any action on a resolution to encourage residents to wear face masks as a way to fight COVID-19.
At its Aug. 11 meeting, held at the Harmon Baldwin gym on Sanders Street so more people could attend despite “social distancing,” council considered a resolution similar to one that many local governments have passed:
“ … Due to the real and present concerns of the spread of COVID-19, it is encouraged that everyone in the city, to include city employees, wear face coverings over the nose and mouth any time they are in contact with other persons who are not household members while in public areas, commercial/retail/business establishments, and city-owned facilities where social distancing is not possible.”
“I’d like to see something a little bit stronger,” said council member Elaine Reed, who was wearing a full plastic face shield while attending the meeting.
All council members except Mayor Curtis Boyd wore cloth masks at various points during the session, and citizens seated in “socially distanced” folding chairs were asked to wear masks and undergo temperature checks.
As council began debating the mask resolution, questions came up about whether the resolution conflicted with, or was superseded by, language in Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive orders about COVID-19, which resulted in some awkward across-the-room consultations with city attorney Kevin Etheridge.
Finally, council member John Milling suggested tabling the resolution and waiting for more information. Council agreed to table the plan, which doesn’t necessarily kill it, but takes it off the agenda and allows it to be brought back if council wishes.
In other business last week:
— Council approved the low bid — $726,000, from Frank Horne Construction – for replacement work on the East Broad Street sewer line, an unusually difficult and expensive project because the line is so deep (more than 20 feet). City Manager Howard Garland said $500,000 for that work is coming from the state and the rest from a revenue bond that council approved last week for waterworks and sewer system improvements in Darlington. That bond is not to exceed $620,000.
— Under an ordinance approved June 29, household junk piled up next to the street – “bulky refuse” – will mean a $100 fine for the person who put it there. Council has not decided whether to put this fine on residents’ water bills or handle it via court fines. Council asked the city attorney to gather more information.
— Council is interested in Boyd’s idea to sell ads on large city vehicles, like trash trucks, and possibly on inserts included in city water bills. But the city is still looking at ways other municipalities handle this same concept and is working to finalize a plan for fees and the like. “Every month we wait, we lose money,” Boyd said.
— Council gave initial approval to economic-development incentives for the Darlington Country Club, which is renovating the inside and outside of the facility, aiming to finish up by the end of 2021. The club’s new owners intend to invest $3.2 million in capital expenses and to hire at least 10 full-time employees, with a preference for those living in Darlington County.
Under the incentives package, the Country Club would be reimbursed building-permit fees, portions of business-license taxes, and portions of hospitality taxes and accommodations taxes.