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As COVID-19 cases continue to surge and mask mandates begin to filter to smaller cities, one area municipality passed an ordinance requiring them to be worn in public.
Bishopville City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that requires, effective immediately, anyone inside a retail or food-service establishment to wear a face covering. Mayor Grady Brown Sr. recommended the mandate be passed, and state Rep. Will Wheeler, D-Bishopville, who represents Lee County as well as parts of Sumter and Kershaw counties, drafted the ordinance based on a model ordinance offered by the Municipal Association of South Carolina, making it nearly identical to Sumter's mandate.
There was discussion on whether to wait to make it effective next week, but Bishopville Police Chief Calvin Collins asked that it go into effect immediately so people can start spreading the word and getting used to the mandate.
Currently, Bishopville does not have a municipal court, so the $25 fine cannot be enforced yet, but council members agreed with Collins' wish to begin educating the public on the requirement ASAP. Council also passed second reading of an ordinance to reestablish municipal court.
"Even if 10% more people wear them, that will help," Collins said during the council meeting Tuesday, which was held via conference call.
The mandate does not apply to children younger than 8.
Lee County has remained atop the state's 46 counties in terms of rate of infection. As of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's daily update Tuesday, there were 330 residents across the county to have tested positive for the virus, and 22 have died. According to U.S. Census data from 2019, Lee County has 16,828 residents.
On the other side of Sumter in Clarendon County, Manning officials tabled an ordinance Tuesday afternoon that would require individuals to wear a face mask at public venues inside the city.
Manning City Council members Sherry Welle, Clayton Pack and Ervin Davis, along with Mayor Julia A. Nelson, agreed to look over the wording in an ordinance versus a resolution and have another special-called meeting early next week when a decision could be made. Pack voted against postponing a decision.
For more than 45 minutes, council members and Nelson discussed the merits of an ordinance requiring individuals to wear face masks in public places and how that ordinance would be enforced.
No date was made for a second special-called meeting to discuss the issue.
The Sumter Item will have more details on the meeting tomorrow.
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