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For 61 days, masks are mandatory in the city of Aiken

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 9:43 PM EDT
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AIKEN, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) - In a 5-2 vote, the Aiken City Council has voted for an emergency mask ordinance. The council has amended its previous resolution that only recommended masks.

Voice after voice was heard at the city of Aiken council meeting. Some argued for business, others for public safety. But in the end for the next 61 days, it is mandatory to wear a mask inside Aiken restaurants and stores.

Councilman Woltz said he didn't like the ordinance in its entirety, but we needed to do something different in the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Two council members, including Councilman Ed Girardeau voted no.

“I think we are selling the community short. I think the community will respond and do it without an ordinance that makes it against the law,” Girardeau said.

But there are some exceptions to mask-wearing:

You don't need to wear a mask while eating.

If you choose not to for religious purposes.

Or if you have a medical condition.

But -- "If your religion forbids it, well how does anyone prove that?" Wren Krentz questioned.

Krentz started a petition to see the ordinance passed but with certain amendments. There were two amendments added to the ordinance including a change of the minimum age requirement to 5-years-old, and a change in the language to not requiring masks during outdoor physical activity.

“I feel that’s a very strong mandate for the city of Aiken and will make things much safer for people,” Krentz said.

But many argue it will hurt business or infringe on their rights. But the next 61 days will likely show everyone what’s true.

Mayor Osbon announced he was diagnosed with COVID-19 this morning joined the meeting by phone. He supported the mask ordinance saying we must do everything we can to protect each other.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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