Face Masks to be Required in Unincorporated Beaufort County

Face coverings required per Beaufort County ordinance number 2020-03

Thursday, July 2, 2020 1:15 PM

In response to the rise in new COVID-19 cases over the past month, Beaufort County Council met for a special-called meeting Wednesday, July 1, and approved an emergency ordinance outlining face mask requirements for unincorporated areas of the County.

The ordinance, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 3, requires people to wear a face covering and practice social-distancing while inside commercial and public buildings in unincorporated Beaufort County, whenever possible.

The exceptions to this are for those in child care facilities, schools, churches and gyms where social-distancing policies are already in place; patrons who are actively eating food or consuming beverages; anyone receiving medical treatment; and those who are actively swimming in indoor pools.

The ordinance also requires employees of restaurants, retail establishments, grocery stores, salons and pharmacies, to wear face coverings whenever they are within six feet of the general public or in proximity to each other.

The County’s face mask ordinance will remain in effect through Aug. 31 unless Council terminates or extends it.

The City of BeaufortTown of Hilton HeadTown of Bluffton and Town of Port Royal have passed face mask ordinances of their own. You can read each of those ordinances by clicking on the name of each municipality.

The town of Yemassee will take up the issue in a meeting next week.

To read the full version of the County ordinance, click here.

For more information, see the below:

Does the County ordinance apply to the City of Beaufort or the Towns of Hilton Head, Bluffton, Port Royal or Yemassee?

Though some aspects of the municipal ordinances are similar to the County's, the County ordinance only applies to commercial and public buildings in unincorporated Beaufort County.

Who is required to wear a face mask in unincorporated Beaufort County?

  • Anyone who is inside a commercial building that is open to the public
  • Employees of all restaurants, retail establishments, salons, grocery stores and pharmacies who are within six feet of the general public or in proximity to each other
  • Anyone providing or using public or commercial transportation, including tours
  • All businesses or employees interacting with people in outdoor spaces, including, but not limited to, curbside pickup, delivery, and service calls

Who isn’t required to wear a face mask?

  • People who are actively drinking or eating in a restaurant or bar
  • Anyone traveling in a personal vehicle
  • People in churches, child care facilities, schools and gyms (when social distancing policies are in place)
  • People who are receiving medical treatment or care
  • Anyone who is actively swimming in an indoor pool
  • Those who are alone or in the presence of only household members while in an enclosed space
  • Anyone younger than 2 or at the discretion of a parent, custodian or guardian
  • Those who are unable to safely wear a face covering due to age or an underlying health condition
  • Anyone who is unable to remove a face covering without the assistance of others

I’m required to wear a face mask. What happens if I don’t?

  • The intent of this ordinance is to encourage voluntary compliance and educate the public on the importance of wearing face masks to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

I have a business in unincorporated Beaufort County. What do I need to know about the County’s face mask ordinance?

  • Business owners and operators are responsible for informing patrons of the County’s face-covering requirements
  • Business owners and operators shall post conspicuous signage at all entrances of their location informing patrons of the face-covering requirements
  • All businesses must provide their employees with face coverings or materials for making face coverings. Nothing shall prevent an employee from fashioning his or her own cloth face mask.
  • If an employee or customer refuses to wear a face covering for other than medical reasons, a business owner may decline entry or service to that individual.
  • Repeated violations of this ordinance at any business or establishment that is not exempt from the requirements are declared a nuisance and, as such, the County may seek a restraining order, preliminary injunction, permanent injunction, or suspension or revocation of the County-issued business license.

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