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Charleston requires face coverings in public

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An airman assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston waits near a C-17 Globemaster wearing a face covering. (Photo/Airman First Class Duncan C. Bevan/U.S. Air Force)Charleston City Council passed an emergency law last night requiring individuals to wear face coverings in public areas inside the city.

The city also extended the suspension of business license penalties.

The face-coverings law goes into effect July 1 and will continue for 60 days unless the city determines it’s not needed sooner.

The move follows other major municipalities in South Carolina passing similar laws to fight the threat of infection from the coronavirus pandemic. Greenville and Columbia have passes similar laws recently.

The city said enforcement will be done primarily through civilian education from the city’s Livability Department, but a fine of $50 also could be levied against individuals not following the requirements. The city said that businesses aren't expected to enforce the ordinance themselves.

South Carolina has seen a spike in coronavirus infections and COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week that anyone traveling from states with a certain rate of infection, including South Carolina, would have to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state.

The ordinance covers all public spaces, including inside businesses or gatherings, but there are some exceptions.

For businesses, private offices are exempt. The city also is allowing restaurants with outdoor space to not require face coverings in that area where social distancing of at least 6-feet is used.

Other exemptions to the face-covering law include:

  • Anyone in a personal vehicle.
  • If a person is alone inside a home or with family.
  • Children under 10, with the stipulation that accompanying adults try to get kids to wear face coverings when inside businesses.
  • Anyone with an underlying health condition.
  • Outdoor physical activities as long as a minimum distance of 6-feet is maintained.
  • Actively drinking, eating or smoking.
  • Anyone whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a mask.
  • Anyone in a private, individual office setting.
  • Anyone receiving dental work.
  • While swimming.
  • Police officers and first responders also do not have to wear face coverings when impractical or when it might endanger the public.

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