AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — While statewide mask mandates may be gone in the Palmetto State, several municipalities still have their own local ordinances in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
To mask or not to mask? That’s the question Gov. McMaster is leaving to local governments to answer. “One size fits all is not the best approach. The best approach is to lead is to have the local jurisdictions passing ordinance,” the governor said. “The state has about 350 law enforcement officers in the state law enforcement division. The counties in the municipality just have thousands and they know their people. They knew their businesses. They knew their locations. They knew their events. That is the better way. And that’s what I’m encouraging,” he added.
The city of Aiken is one of the few locations in the CSRA still holding on to its legislation.
“The governor’s executive that issue was issued on a Friday didn’t really affect us,” Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Bedenbaugh says that the city didn’t include certain items that were listed in McMaster’s executive order, including requirements for local restaurants. “Because we knew the governor has prior executive orders pertaining to covid-19 had a lot of specificities as it related to dining establishments, et cetera, and restaurants, et cetera,” he added.
The City passed masks mandates back in July of last year. The current ordinance states that masks must be worn indoors in public places but there are some exemptions.
After several extensions of the rules, council decided to make it a regular ordinance that would not expire until council is ready. “I expect council will want to take a look at the mask ordinance, set a point coming soon. I don’t have a definitive date at this time, but, but yes, it is something that is on their radar,” Bedenbaugh shared.
For those areas that do not have masks mandates in place, Mcmaster said that they should look into it. “They need to consider having some, they need to examine their situation and see what would work in their communities, pass that, and then enforce it because they have the complete authority to do that. It’s called home rule. They have the authority,” McMaster said.
Other locations with mask mandates in the CSRA include:
- The City of Barnwell
- The Town of Blackville
We will update this list. Check back for updates.