Mask mandates take effect on both sides of the river, but in different ways

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 11:20 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The rules about what happens when you don’t wear a mask are different on different sides of the river. And so is what can happen if you don’t follow the rules.

“I think that people in general are pretty decent. I really do feel that if they’re that against wearing a mask, they’re just going to stay away,” Cindy Rudisill said.

Rudisill owns Cyndi’s Sweet Shoppe in Aiken, and she says if there are any mask nay-sayers -- they aren’t trying to come in.

Both the city of Aiken and the city of Augusta have mandated masks but with one key difference:

Aiken public safety officers can charge you with trespassing if you refuse to cover up.

But cross the river, and Richmond County deputies say they’re treating calls as “educational contacts.” In other words, there’s no fine right now.

“Our customers have been great, they’ve all been very compliant with it,” Jim Christian, manager of Savannah Brewing Co. Taproom, said. “We had a couple people come without masks, not prepared, especially that first day or so. We keep masks behind the bar on that occasion just to give out for folks.”

Businesses like the Savannah Brewing Co. Taproom in Augusta have been self-enforcing for a week now.

“We heard about it at 4:30, after we’d been open for about a half hour or so,” Christian said.

But now they have the hang of it. The same can't be said for a lot of people News 12 saw downtown tonight.

Last week, more people seemed to be masking up. This week, it's mostly law enforcement. The sidewalks also look different than a week ago. But most notably, the patio of bustling Whiskey Bar kitchen now empty due to an employee contracting COVID-19.

We reached out to Aiken public safety about reports, and dispatch says there was only one call today to report someone not wearing a mask.

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