Charleston, South Carolina – Local officials were pleading with the general public today to take this COVID-19 surge in the Lowcountry seriously. They want everyone to wear a mask, and now, there are consequences for ignoring that plea.
Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stan Wilson called the situation “a category 6 hurricane of illness and we cannot evacuate.”
Warning of catastrophic consequences, Lowcountry officials implored the public to cover up.
“What is the single thing our citizens can do right now to make a difference? Wear a mask. It’s just that simple.” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.
And now, it will be enforced by officers in Charleston’s Livability and Tourism Department.
Once tasked with patrolling for illegal Airbnb rentals, now these city officers are educating and, at times, insisting the public wear masks.
City of Charleston officials said the enforcement of this ordinance is not designed for punishment. They plan to start with education and a warning.
If they have to keep issuing warnings, then they will give a citation with a fine of $50.00.
People will have to wear masks inside hotels, restaurants, retail shops, even at gyms and weddings. And masks are also required for employees.
Of course, there will be exceptions.
“There is a feasibility clause in the ordinance to allow for individuals to temporarily remove their masks,” Dan Riccio, director of Charleston’s Livability and Tourism Department.
Tour guides need to talk and diners need to eat.
But more importantly, the hospitals need to function, and at the rate Charleston is going, the mayor says the outlook is bleak if the public does not cooperate with these new mandates.
On Thursday, MUSC said they have 75 patients with COVID-19 at their hospital, with 25 in intensive care.
“Not only has the virus not gone away, it is growing precipitously in the Lowcountry and it’s a real threat to our healthcare system and economy and progress going forward,” says Mayor Tecklenburg.