City of Columbia now requiring people to wear masks in public

Columbia is now the second city in the state requiring people to wear masks if they're out in public

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — Columbia is now the second city in the state requiring people to wear masks if they’re out in public. Columbia City Council members voted during a specially called meeting Tuesday.

“This is not a perfect solution. It’s a move and a thoughtful step in the right direction that continues to guide us to our true north. Our true north is simply the preservation of human life. To do what we can, as quickly as we can, as much as we can to help us get out of this public health emergency and back to some sense of normalcy,” said Columbia City Mayor Steve Benjamin.

The measure passed 6-1 after several hours in executive session, during which some of the language of the ordinance was amended.

“There’s only but so much government can do. We really are trying to encourage people to do the small things that we can,” said Benjamin.

There are exceptions to the ordinance.

“The ordinance applies to those older than 10 years old. And while, of course, we cannot constitutionally apply this to religious establishments, it’s strongly encouraged that use of face coverings is also recommended during religious activities,” said Benjamin.

Per the ordinance:

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.

Face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:
a. In personal vehicles;
b. 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;
c. When a person is alone or only with other household members;
d. While drinking, eating or smoking;
e. When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition.
f. When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services.
g. When a person is 10 years of age or younger.

Citizens will be fined a max of $25 if not wearing a mask inside commercial businesses. Employees of restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores and pharmacies in Columbia not wearing masks will be fined a max of $100.

“These are difficult and challenging times, and I just want to thank my colleagues and the hundreds, if not thousands of citizens who’ve reached out to us,” said Benjamin.

The ordinance went effect Friday at 6 a.m.

Benjamin added they will work to make masks available for those who need them.

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