West Columbia passes mask requirement ordinance

West Columbia City Council approved an emergency ordinance mandating masks, Tuesday at its regular meeting. The ordinance required a two-thirds vote. It passed 8-1, with only Councilwoman Casey Hallman voting against. The mask mandate will go into effect at 6 a.m. Friday.

Masks are required upon entering grocery stores, pharmacies and medical offices. Retail stores, deemed non-essential, are allowed an opt-out provision.

The ordinance passed after Lexington Medical Center President and CEO Tod Augsburger spoke to council. He was invited to present information on the coronavirus from the perspective of the medical community.

Click here to see a copy of the ordinance

Amendments (added after a closed session):

  • Expand food service operations to include bars and taverns – passed
  • Expand to include beauty salons nails salons and personal hygiene faculty -passed
  • Eliminate the opt-out provision – failed
  • Limit opt-out to only non-essential services – passed
  • Effective date of 6 a.m. July 10 – passed
  • Effective for 30 days (not 60 day) after enactment – failed

Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19, Augsburger said. He told council there are close to 2,500 positive cases of coronavirus in Lexington County as of Monday and there have been 882 new cases in the last two weeks. Augsburger said coronavirus is “far from over.”

Augsburger also said younger people are now testing positive for the coronavirus and the mortality rate is decreasing. As of Tuesday 48 people had died of it in Lexington County.

Augsburger said coronavirus can be spread by people who don’t know they have it and a mask will help protect the more vulnerable.
He said stopping the spread of the virus would increase the chances of getting back to school on a regular schedule.

RELEASE from Anna Huffman – West Columbia Public Information Officer

During its July 7, 2020 meeting, the City of West Columbia City Council passed an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings in certain establishments in the city. The ordinance goes into effect at 6 AM on July 10, 2020, and expires on the 61st day.  A summary of the ordinance is below.

Businesses, where masks are required, must place a “Notice” (poster, placard, or notification, which shall be at least 8”x11”) in a conspicuous place notifying the public of the requirement to wear a face covering.

Face coverings must be worn inside any Foodservice Establishment, Retail Establishment, Hair Salons, Nail Salons, Barber Shops, Personal Hygiene Establishments, Medical Offices, and City Building including:

  1. grocery stores;
  2. pharmacies;
  3. commercial stores engaged in the retail sale of goods or services to the public including
    1. sporting goods stores;
    2. furniture and home-furnishings stores;
    3. clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores;
    4. jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores;
    5. department stores;
    6. hardware and home-improvement stores;
    7. book, craft, and music stores;
    8. florists and flower stores;
    9. bars and taverns;
    10. all other stores that sell supplies for household consumption or use;
  4. alcoholic beverage stores; and
  5. laundromats.

All Foodservice Establishments and Retail Establishments within the City must require every employee to wear a Face Covering at all times while having face-to-face interaction with the public or other employees or where social distancing of at least six feet cannot be observed at all times.

Face Covering will not be required:

(i)                  by any person who is unable to safely wear a Face Covering due to age or an underlying health condition;

(ii)                by any person who is physically unable to remove the Face Covering without the assistance of others;

(iii)              by all persons 10 years of age or under;

(iv)              all persons whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a Face Covering;

(v)                any person in a private or individual office;

(vi)              where it is not feasible to wear a Face Covering, including

  1. persons receiving oral health services,
  2. persons swimming,
  3. engaging in athletic activities;

(vii)            for patrons of Foodservice Establishments while they are dining; and

(viii)          by police officers, firefighters, and other first responders when not practical or engaged in a public safety matter of an emergency nature.

Upon written request to the City, a Foodservice Establishment or Retail Establishment having the ability to isolate customers from employees and maintain social distancing may request a waiver of the Face Covering requirements. Waiver forms will be available from the City and submitted for registration and filing with the City. Copies of waiver forms and registration will be available via the City’s website: Grocery stores, Pharmacies, Hair Salons, Nail Salons, Barber Shops, Personal Hygiene Establishments, and Medical Offices are not eligible for the exemption.  

Violations are a civil infraction and will result in a fine of not more than $25.00 for each violation.

No person shall be required to disclose any information or provide any actual evidence as to their individual qualification for any exemption.

Complaints about violations can be made by calling the West Columbia Hotline at 803-939-8627.