Hartsville renews mask ordinance for another 60 days
By Samantha Lyles
Diners and customers in the City of Hartsville will spend another two months under the mask, as City Council voted at their Oct. 13 meeting to renew the temporary ordinance requiring face coverings in retail and food-service establishments. City Council voted 7-0 to extend Ordinance 4403 through Dec. 11, at which point the measure will automatically expire unless renewed again. Intended to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the mask requirement was originally adopted in August as Hartsville experienced an alarming spike in coronavirus case numbers. The ordinance gives specific circumstances where citizens will be required to wear a face covering: “All customers are required to wear face coverings while inside the enclosed area of any retail establishment, food-service 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 food-service establishments shall require staff who interact with customers (including delivery personnel) to wear face coverings while working.” There are also several exemptions where masks will not be required: “In outdoor or unenclosed areas connected to retail or food-service 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 food-service 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; and “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 area.” Those found to be in violation of the ordinance could face fines of $25, and businesses that violate the ordinance could be fined $100, with each day of violation defined as a separate offense. Although city officials have publicly stated that most citizens understood the need for some form of action in the interest of public safety, the requirement is not universally accepted. “I have no problem with ‘mask wearing’ as an individual choice, but I consider it government overreach when it comes to mandates regarding the same,” wrote city resident Elise Boyd, in a public comment submitted to City Council. Boyd received this response from Councilman Bobby McGee, a chief proponent of the mask requirement: “I believe that wearing a mask, while inconvenient, is something we do out of love for others, and is exactly the type of sacrifice we as Americans have made many times throughout our history.” In other matters, council agreed to commit $76,638 in matching funds for South Hartsville sewer upgrades. This money will pair with a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant the city received in 2019 to repair the South Park sewer system. Another $290,400 was committed to purchase emergency generators for municipal well sites. The winning bid for this contract came from Southern Energy Resources LLC of Lexington. Council also held a public hearing and approved final reading for Ordinance 4402, which authorizes leasing the property at 231 West Carolina Ave. to Divine Destiny Ministries for six months to one year beginning Nov. 1 for $500 a month.