Rock Hill passes emergency ordinance requiring face masks to be worn in public

 Rock Hill passes emergency ordinance requiring face masks to be worn in public
(Source: Lyndsey Gough)

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Face masks will soon be required for those in public places in Rock Hill, city council officials voted Monday. The mandate goes into effect Friday at midnight.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, city council held a meeting at 10 a.m. to vote on the emergency ordinance, which will require residents to wear face masks in public places within city limits.

Those places include restaurants, grocery stores, retail establishments and pharmacies, according to the proposal. The measure will last no longer than 60 days.

Rock Hill is the first city in York County to require masks... the 5 to 2 vote came down this morning at a specially-called meeting. It was not without heated debate.

This was not a public hearing, but the council gave people the opportunity to speak. Both sides came out to voice strong opinions, but again, it passed. People in Rock Hill will have a mandate to now wear masks.

”We can suffer some inconvenience for the health and safety of all,” says Mayor John Gettys.

Before the vote, there was an opportunity for people to voice their thoughts. Passionate statements poured from the podium on both sides. Horace Rodriguez begged the council to require masks, coming from personal experience.

”I was sick and I experienced this and I don’t want anyone else to experience this,” says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says he was in the hospital for 20 days. He says a mask in a simple way to make sure people do not share his experience.

”Let people hear us what really goes on. When you have to learn to walk again, when you have to learn how to breathe again and drink and swallow again,” says Rodriguez. “It’s devestating.”

Rodriquez’s own mask tells the story of his 16 days on a ventilator after contracting Covid, but Rebecca Lugthart, who spoke against the mandate, says wearing a mask infringes on her rights.

”I just think it’s the government’s job to protect my constitutional freedoms and not my health,” says Lugthart. “It’s my job to protect my health.”

Lugthart sees the mask mandate as unenforceable and unhelpful. She says the coronavirus is not a problem.

”The beginning of a very slippery slope to take away our liberties and our freedoms, which is the reason I moved here to South Carolina from a very liberal state and this is just not the South Carolina that I thought I was moving to,” she says.

Even though the debate and vote stopped inside the chambers, opinions still spilled outside about the result.

“I clapped because I was so happy. Tears of joy. Tears of joy,” says Rodriguez and his wife.

”I’m just very disappointed that their using fear as a propaganda,” says Lugthart.

Derrick Lindsey, Kathy Pender, Nikita Jackson, Jim Reno, and Mayor John Gettys all voted in favor of the ordinance. The mask mandate passed 5-2.

In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper announced residents are required to wear face masks in public and that the state’s Phase 2 will continue as coronavirus cases continue to rise at an alarming rate.

People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible.

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