Aiken officials find many complying with mask order

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:41 PM EDT
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AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) - As COVID-19 cases rise, several of our local governments have created mask mandates. That includes Aiken and Augusta, too, even though it goes against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order.

But we checked in with law enforcement and found no one has gotten a ticket yet.

We’ve all seen people not wearing masks in places they should be. But instead of harsh citations or confrontations, it seems most are choosing to work together.

It’s just like no shirt, no shoes, no service. Except these days it’s no mask, no service.

“Stores do not have to allow somebody with an exemption into the premises,” Aiken Department of Public Safety Capt. Craig Burgess said.

Burgess says despite that sounding harsh, everyone seems to be cooperative. They’ve received 13 calls for service since the mandate started a week ago.

“In most cases, it was simply a means of education,” Burgess said. “Or, in a couple of cases, it was a misunderstanding of the ordinance.”

“I think everybody wants to be safe and is willing to do their part,” Aiken Chamber of Commerce President David Jameson said.

Jameson says some businesses may see an increase in traffic because some people feel safer when everyone is wearing a mask.

“I think it’s working out,” Jameson said. “The fear of what might’ve been scared people, but you weigh that against the fact that, ‘let’s try this instead of closing down again.”

In Augusta, the downtown development authority says there’s been little negativity and businesses are handling it.

Richmond County dispatch says they’ve received one call about a mask violation. That could be a benefit to businesses and each other.

“Our goal is education,” Burgess said. “Let’s just get through this phase and hopefully South Carolina will be in a better place for Aiken doing its part to mitigate this pandemic.”

Law enforcement says if you see someone not wearing a mask, talk to the store manager or owner first. Let them handle it or call an officer if it’s necessary.

Aiken DPS says the only time someone would be arrested under the ordinance is if they’re asked to leave and refuse.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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