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Columbia City Council extends mask ordinance for 60 days

Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 7:23 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia City Council reaffirmed its COVID-19 mask ordinance.

On Tuesday, council members unanimously voted to extend the city’s existing mask ordinance for 60 days through May 15. The ordinance does not include any of the strengthened measures that were considered in February.

District 4 Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate Daniel Rickenmann motioned to reduce the ordinance length to 30 days but failed to get a second.

At-large Councilmember Howard Duvall said the council can end the ordinance when it wishes and could do so if the data continues to approve.

Rickenmann voted to approve the extension and but said he only supports the measure so long as it is re-examined in 30 days.

The council also discussed the estimated $25,930,000 it expects Columbia to receive as part of the American Rescue Plan recently signed into law.

City Administrator Teresa Wilson said her staff will be working to create recommendations for the city on how to spend the money.

At-large Councilmember Tameika Isaac-Devine said the city should work with Richland County, which is slated to receive an estimated $80,630,000.

“To meet the needs of our joint citizens, that we do that so we’re not overlapping efforts or even missing huge gaps where there are needs,” she said.

The council also gave its approval for a series of events to include alcohol consumption. These included large events, namely the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner on May 2 and Live on Lincoln on April 18.

Those events are capping attendance at 1,000 and 300 people respectively.

There was concern about the size of those events, and both passed with 4 to 3 margins.

Duvall expressed concern that large gatherings were too soon.

“[The Gervais Street Bridge Dinner] is normally held in October. I think by October I’d be perfectly comfortable authorizing this dinner, but at the present time I can support having a dinner of 1,000 people on the Gervais Street Bridge.”

Rickenmann countered by arguing the city has allowed the Soda City Market to operate for months with large crowds, calling the dinner a “limited seated event.”

Organizers for both events have been adamant about safety precautions. Congaree Vista Guild Executive Director Abby Anderson said her team was able to effectively hold a Live on Lincoln event in October without issues.

“They don’t allow you to mingle while you’re there, so you can waive from table to table. I think just making sure everyone knows we’re making this a safe and great event for the arts,” she said. The non-profit Carolina Together is organizing the bridge dinner and could not be reached for comment.

However, it has outlined its safety procedures in both city documents and social media posts.

Our goal is to be as safe as possible so we are taking necessary precautions to ensure the well-being for all our...

Posted by Gervais Street Bridge Dinner on Thursday, March 11, 2021

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