June 29, 2020
Town Council Passes Emergency Ordinance 2020-06
Message from Mayor Weaver
Town Council met this morning and passed a new ordinance (Ordinance 2020-06) which imposes for the next 30 days a requirement that face coverings be worn in certain public areas within the Town of Kiawah Island. These requirements become effective at noon, Wednesday, July 1. The entire text of the ordinance can be found here.
The final provisions changed in some instances from the draft of the proposed ordinance that was circulated yesterday. The key provisions are:
- For businesses, clubs and association facilities, except restaurants:
- All persons, including employees must wear a face covering at all times including when entering or while waiting to enter.
- For restaurants, indoor and outdoor:
- All employees who directly interact with the public must wear a face covering; and
- All persons entering a restaurant, waiting to enter or to be seated, or waiting for take-out, are required to wear a mask at all times except while seated for dining or beverage service.
There are certain exceptions for young children, persons with certain health issues that prevent the wearing of a face covering, and for persons in private offices. The Town’s Code Enforcement officers will be responsible for educating the public about the new requirements and assisting our businesses with enforcement as necessary. We anticipate a high degree of voluntary public cooperation, but refusal to comply with these requirements will result in a $25 fine to an individual and $100 to a business.
Ordinance 2020-06 does not mandate the wearing of face coverings in open public areas such as parks, pedestrian paths, boardwalks, or the beach, although the Council members considered this at some length. Regardless, we strongly recommend and encourage the use of face coverings where six-foot social distancing is difficult to maintain and will include that recommendation in future public communications.
We all hoped that as South Carolina and Kiawah Island reopened their businesses we could do so without seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Our local businesses have taken many steps to ensure customer and employee safety. Despite these precautions and all of the guidance offered to the public about how to control this pandemic, the rise in confirmed cases statewide and in the Charleston area shows we are on the wrong track. Social distancing is still the key to avoiding exposure to the virus. Successfully practicing social distancing has become more difficult because of greater numbers of people in our public areas and businesses and, unfortunately, the disregard being shown by some.
Like many, I don’t especially enjoy wearing a face covering, yet I strongly believe that we need to take this action to address the increased risk to our community. Kiawah has avoided the most severe impact of this virus so far, we think, and it would be foolhardy to risk your health, your neighbor’s health, and risk shutting down Kiawah’s economy all over again, just to avoid an occasional inconvenience. I have no idea what more is going to be thrown at our community in the ensuing months. I do know that whatever arises will require all of Kiawah – our governing entities, property owners, businesses, and visitors – to be aligned and committed to keeping ourselves and each other safe.