Face coverings are still required inside many S.C. businesses

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 1:16 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In case you missed it, South Carolina’s governor has lifted the majority of restrictions related to COVID-19.

Most recently, Gov. Henry McMaster ended the “Last Call” order, which kept bars and restaurants from selling alcohol past 11 p.m.

But one restriction is still being enforced: wearing face masks in restaurants.

Under the governor’s current executive order, restaurant employees are required to wear a face mask or covering. Customers are also required to wear a mask when entering the building.

Considering so many restrictions are lifted, WMBF News checked-in with local dining services to see how mask compliance is going for their business.

Matt Duke is the owner and operator of Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakery.

He says even before the governor issued the mandate for dine-in businesses, his staff were wearing masks.

Duke says it was big adjustment for some workers, but once it became a requirement, everyone was on board with masking up.

When it comes to customer compliance, Duke says it’s been going well. But at times, he says some people want to have discussions about the masks.

“It’s just the way society is,” Duke said. “There’s so many mixed opinions and views about this. We get a lot of feedback from customers, [sharing] their feelings [about this topic].”

The owner of Mr. Fish, Ted Hammerman, said mask compliance for his employees is also going smooth.

“I always err on the side of caution,” Hammerman said. “When people walk in the restaurant or market, employees are wearing masks.”

Employees at Mr. Fish have worked out a system to offer masks to guests. Hammerman says that helped compliance go much smoother with customers compared to when the mask mandate first started.

“We had the people who weren’t wearing masks come in and they would cuss us at the door when we told them they had to wear a mask,” he said. “Now, we’re primarily 98 percent [of the time showing and asking customers first], would you like a mask, offer it that way.”

In addition to the governor’s order, The city of Myrtle Beach has an executive order in place requiring people to wear face masks and coverings inside certain businesses. That includes retail establishments and restaurants.

Mayor Brenda Bethune says it’s important for people to remember the tourism season is approaching. She says a mask mandate will help to protect residents and tourists even more during the ever-changing pandemic.

“We have such a large percentage of our residents who are aged 65 and older,” Bethune said. “This is about being safe for them as well as for our visitors. So the mask order will stay in place, indefinitely at this point. We don’t know when the right time is to lift it. We’re not there yet.”

As far as the governor’s mandate, time will tell with what happens. But the subject of mandating masks will surely be discussed among residents and business owners.

“I can foresee in the near future, especially with tourism [coming up], and as coronavirus numbers drop dramatically, vaccines going out pretty rapid, I can foresee hopefully next six weeks, the mask mandate being dropped,” Duke said.

“I see things changing, whether it’s a safe move that’s happening, I don’t know,” Hammerman said.

Earlier this week, McMaster published a Facebook post sharing a study conducted by WalletHub.

Out of all 50 states, the study ranks South Carolina second for having the least COVID-19 restrictions.

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