Blythewood Town Council mandates masks

BLYTHEWOOD – During a special called meeting last week, council voted 4 – 1 to approve an emergency mask ordinance that is, according to Town Administrator Carroll Williamson, largely like the one recently passed by Richland County and similar to the one the Town enacted last year. Councilman Eddie Baughman voted against the ordinance.

One difference in this ordinance and the county’s is that the Blythewood ordinance does not apply to schools, Williamson said.

The ordinance requires masks to be worn in all commercial establishments for the next 60 days.

Councilman Brock asked how the ordinance will apply to the Oktoberfest.

“There would be no exception for the event,” Williamson said.

As for enforcement of the ordinance at Oktoberfest, Williamson said, “We will make sure they do everything they can to comply with the ordnance.”

He said, however, that there are no enforcement plans specifically.

“It does say every effort will be made for voluntary compliance,” Williamson said.

Brock suggested an amendment that would alleviate the businesses from having to fund special protections by providing the town’s businesses with all necessary hand sanitizer, masks and face coverings as reasonably requested.

Councilman Larry Griffin asked, “Are we doing this just to do it? Or are we going to enforce it?”

Council did not address fines which are listed in the ordinance as $25 for noncompliance. Business owners/managers of restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the Town must require their employees to wear a face covering and can be fined up to $100 if their employees do not comply with the ordinance.


General Mask Mandate

1. All persons entering a commercial establishment in the Town must wear a face covering, which covers the mouth and nose, while inside the establishment. A face covering must also be worn in situations where distances between people change frequently such as a busy sidewalk, waiting area, or popular outdoor area where it is impractical or impossible to maintain six feet of distance at all times. This paragraph does not apply to religious establishments or schools. However, the use of face coverings is recommended during religious and school activities as well.

2. All restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the Town must require their employees to wear a face covering, which covers the mouth and nose, at all times while having face to face interaction with the public.

3. Any person who is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, an underlying health condition, or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others is exempt from this Ordinance.

4. Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

  • In personal vehicles;
  • When a person is alone in enclosed spaces; during outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of six (6) feet from other people at all times;
  • When a person is alone or only with other household members;
  • While drinking, eating or smoking;
  • When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition.
  • When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services.
  • When a person is 10 years of age or younger.

5. A person who fails to comply with Paragraph 1 of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $25.00. A person who fails to comply with Paragraph 2 of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than $100.00.

6. Each day of a continuing violation of this Ordinance shall be considered a separate and distinct offense. In addition to the fines established by this paragraph, repeated violations of this Ordinance by a person who owns, manages, operates or otherwise controls a business subject to this Ordinance may, subject to all procedural protections set forth in the Town Code, result in the suspension or revocation of any occupancy permit or business license issued to a business where the repeated violations occurred. Repeated violations of this Ordinance are additionally hereby declared to be a public nuisance, which may be abated by the Town by restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction, or other means provided for by the laws of this State. The foregoing notwithstanding, every effort shall be made to bring the business into voluntary compliance with the terms of this Ordinance prior to the issuance of any citation. For the purposes of Paragraph 2 of this Ordinance, “person” shall be defined as any individual associated with the business who has the control or authority and ability to enforce the social distancing requirements of the Ordinance within the business, such as an owner, manager or supervisor. “Person” may also include an employee or other designee that is present at the business but does not have the title of manager, supervisor, etc., but has the authority and ability to ensure that the requirements of this Ordinance are met while the business is open to the public.

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