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South Carolina Drops Mask Ordinance As Restaurant Workers Become Eligible for Vaccination

The ending of the state mask requirement doesn’t end the local rules for mask wearing in Charleston, however

Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas.

On Friday, March 5, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced that face masks are no longer required inside state-owned buildings or inside restaurants when not eating or drinking. Local ordinances still apply however. For example, masks are still required in Charleston. City of Charleston attorney Susan Herdina issued the following statement on March 6: “As Gov. McMaster’s latest order makes clear, local mask ordinances continue to apply in local jurisdictions. Therefore, the city of Charleston’s mask requirement remains in effect, including in our bars and restaurants.”

While coronavirus cases throughout the state have been slowly declining, experts have warned that loosening restrictions now could be catastrophic. In a White House briefing on March 1, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said that a fourth wave is possible if states roll back restrictions.

“With these statistics, I am really worried about more states rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19,” she said. “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained.”

With the possibility of diners arriving at bars and restaurants without masks, it’s a good thing that South Carolina food and beverage workers are now included as frontline workers with increased occupational risk. As of March 8, the state rolled out phase 1b of the its COVID-19 vaccination plan. Included in this category are people who can’t perform their jobs from home and have an occupation that exposes them to others. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control states this as,

Frontline workers with increased occupational risk are people who:

Must be in-person at their place of work, and

Perform a job that puts them at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent, close (less than 6 feet) and ongoing (more than 15 minutes) contact with others in the work environment

Examples of frontline workers include, but are not limited to, school staff and daycare workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, law enforcement officers, etc.

As of publication, 771,516 South Carolina residents have started the vaccination process. Many who are newly qualified are frustrated by the lack of the amount of vaccinations available and the process of constantly refreshing websites to see if any available spaces have opened up at pharmacies and other locations offering the shot.

Gov. McMaster Loosens COVID-19 Rules on Face Masks in State Buildings, Restaurants [The State]
CDC Director ‘Really Worried’ About States Rolling Back Covid Safety Measures [CNN]
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control [Official]