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Columbia to require masks within city limits

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Masks will be mandatory within the city limits of Columbia beginning Friday morning.

Columbia City Council passed an ordinance on Tuesday requiring face coverings in public in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance goes into effect Friday at 6 a.m.

“All persons entering a commercial establishment in the City must wear a face covering while inside the establishment,” the ordinance (.pdf) states. Masks will not be required, though strongly encouraged, during religious activities.

Those with underlying health conditions preventing the safe wearing of a mask are exempt, as are those 10 years old and younger. Masks are not required while in personal vehicles; alone or with other household members in enclosed spaces; engaged in outdoor physical activity; or eating or drinking.

The ordinance also requires all restaurant, retail store, pharmacy, grocery store and salon employees to wear face coverings while interacting with the public.

Failure to comply will result in a fine of not more than $25, according to the ordinance. 

On Monday, Greenville City Council passed an ordinance requiring face coverings within city limits, effective at noon Tuesday.

Last week, as COVID-19 cases in S.C. soared, state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell urged residents to take precautions.

“Every one of us has role to play in stopping COVID-19," Bell said. "This virus does not spread on its own. ... By not following public health precautions, many are putting all at risk.

“It is essential that each of us, every day, wear a mask in public and stay physically distanced from others.”

On Tuesday, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 890 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths, along with three new probable cases. Those numbers brought the state’s totals to 26,572 confirmed cases, 41 probable cases, and 673 deaths.

Seventy-three of the new confirmed cases were in Richland County.

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