COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Now that Governor Henry McMaster has announced that masks will no longer be mandatory in government buildings or restaurants, there are growing questions about exactly when masks are required while out in public.
The governor’s announcement came Friday, March 5, 2021. Now, some local municipalities are following suit while others say it’s too soon.
“For me, it made it easier when I had a mandate in place. Then, I basically didn’t have to be the bad guy anymore,” said Brian Nelson, owner of Keg Cowboy on Main Street in Lexington, where city leaders lifted their mask mandate shortly after the governor’s announcement.
“I had a discussion with staff. I said, ‘what do you guys want to do’ and in all honesty, my staff is staying in their masks because they know it’s for their own protection, too. We’re not being quite as militant about requiring a mask upon entry. I am a little worried that people are getting a false sense of security,” said Nelson.
U.S. health leaders agree as South Carolina joins more than a dozen other states in loosening restrictions.
Dr. Kavita Patel is an NBC medical contributor. She said, “We still need to emphasize for people who are not vaccinated that masks matter. So, taking away mask mandates or even not having them in the first place, doesn’t make sense from a health perspective.”
This, as concerns over coronavirus variants, grow. Meanwhile, business owners struggle to find a balance with customers.
Nelson told WIS-TV that he feels, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t because I was going to have half the people that complained that they had to wear a mask. I was going to have half the people that complained that people weren’t wearing masks. Restaurants and business owners were really put in a no-win situation.”
At last check, some local leaders have decided to stick with the mask mandates they’ve put in place including in Columbia, West Columbia, and Cayce.
“You just want people to take a second and think about the people that are standing there in the masks. Do you think that those folks that are running around that restaurant want to be in a mask six hours, eight hours? They don’t. It’s not fun but it’s for their protection and your protection and just trying to do what’s right. So, just have a little compassion. Have a little understanding,” said Nelson.
It’s important to note that private businesses reserve the right to require that customers wear masks.