GREENVILLE, S.C. (WYFF) - Customers and employees entering grocery stores or pharmacies in the city of Greenville will be required to wear a face covering starting Tuesday, the City Council decided Monday.
The move is part of an emergency ordinance that was unanimously approved by the Greenville City Council.
The ordinance will go into effect at noon Tuesday and remain in effect for 60 days, unless rescinded by council.
Anyone who failed to comply would face a $25 fine.
On March 18, Greenville City Council declared a state of emergency for the city, which remains in place. This allows council to enact emergency ordinances affecting life, health, safety or property.
The plan says the city has approximately 50,000 masks available to distribute. It says the mask would be distributed on Thursday at the Greenville Convention Center.
Some business owners worry about maintaining a steady supply of face masks for customers who don't have one. Kevan Page, a co-owner of Kash and Karry Pharmacy in Greenville, has been operating solely from a drive-thru at the pharmacy. He said he would have to check on availability and get updates on the supply chain for face masks if the demand were to skyrocket.
"We just want to make sure we protect our customers and employees and keep everybody safe," Page said.
To read more about the ordinance, click here.
"We are looking at the numbers in Greenville County and they are real," White said. "The number of beds taken up with COVID in the ICU's, it's over half the available bedspace in case people are wondering. The spike is for real."
The ordinance also says employees at restaurants, bars, retail establishments, salons, grocery stores and pharmacies in the city of Greenville must wear a face covering at all times while having face-to-face interactions.
Anyone who failed to comply with this part of the ordinance would face a $100 fine.
Anyone unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, underlying health conditions or unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others, is exempt from this ordinance.
Greenville City Councilwoman Lillian Brock Flemming said she supported the ordinance due to the spike in new COVID-19 cases.
“It has been serious for us here in this community,” Flemming said. “The government has to intervene when it’s for the life and liberty of all people, not just a few. It’s our job to be responsible for the health and care of the community. If a simple piece of cloth will keep people from dying, I’ll take the simple piece of cloth every day.”
White said we need to get the numbers down and he said we can do that "if we just do our part."
"We can get this whole thing behind us if we just do some simple things," White said.
He encouraged people to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask when in a confined space.
Many shoppers supported the ordinance, saying there needed to be a push to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“It is very real, and it will take your life if you don’t treat it and catch it in time,” Cheryl Butler said. “It’s good to be on the safe side, because there are so many germs out there you really don’t know where they are or who has them and who doesn’t.”
South Carolina currently has more than 24,661 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 653 people have died.
Greenville County has confirmed at least 3,670 cases and 73 deaths.