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Bamberg County requiring use of face coverings starting Friday
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Bamberg County requiring use of face coverings starting Friday

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BAMBERG – Bamberg County officials approved an ordinance requiring individuals in unincorporated areas to wear masks or face coverings in food service and retail establishments starting Friday at 6 a.m.

The ordinance will last for 60 days unless revoked at an earlier date.

Council Chairwoman Sharon Hammond said Monday the ordinance will help save lives.

“I think this is a great thing that we’re doing, we’re going to save lives. And we’re going to help people to not be exposed to the virus as much as we can. We’ve got to do our part, and I hope our citizens do their part also,” Hammond said.

Councilman Trent Kinard noted the recent spike in coronavirus cases in South Carolina, and specifically in Bamberg County, as a need for the ordinance.

County Administrator Joey Preston said the ordinance only covers unincorporated areas of the county. A mask ordinance in municipalities such as Bamberg and Denmark is up to councils in the cities and towns.

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“The county cannot pass an ordinance that creates any type of law within the city limits unless the city councils go along with it. But, what you’re approving tonight is any of the area that is not included in any city limits,” Preston said.

The ordinance states, “The County hereby accepts jurisdiction from any municipality in the county to enforce this ordinance within the municipality’s boundaries as long as the municipality notifies the county in writing that it has voted to transfer jurisdiction to the County to enforce the Ordinance within the municipality’s corporate boundaries, and the County Administrator countersigns the municipality’s written notice accepting said enforcement jurisdiction.”

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The ordinance defines a face covering as a uniform piece of cloth, fabric or other material that securely covers a person’s nose and mouth and remains affixed in place without the use of one’s hands.

Food service establishments are defined as any establishment that sells prepared food on a dine-in, delivery, carry-out or drive-through basis, and retail establishments are defined as any retail business, organization, establishment, or facility open to the public.

The ordinance requires customers and staff to wear masks.

The ordinance details exemptions, including outdoor or unenclosed spaces where people can be distanced 6 feet apart, in personal vehicles, for children between the ages of 2 and 9 when adults are trying to keep their faces covered, for people with medical or behavioral issues, for people with religious concerns, when complying with directions of law enforcement offices, and while dining.

Persons in violation of the ordinance will be guilty of a civil infraction, resulting in a fine of no more than $25. Each violation will be treated as a separate offense.

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Establishments that fail to require employees to wear a face-covering will be assessed a fine of no more than $100.

Repeat violation of the ordinance may result in the suspension or revocation of any county permit or business license.

Also during Monday's meeting:

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  • Council approved a resolution declaring a State of Emergency in Bamberg County in response to the public safety and health threat of the coronavirus.
  • Council approved an inducement resolution providing a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement between the county and "Project Joker."
  • Council approved first reading of an ordinance authorizing the execution and delivery of a fee agreement between the county and "Project Joker."
  • Council approved first reading of an ordinance authorizing public meetings in the county to be held electronically.
  • Council approved first reading of an ordinance to amend the amended and restated mater agreement for the establishment of the Quad-County Industrial Park between Bamberg, Barnwell, Allendale and Hampton counties to include additional property in Bamberg County.
  • County Treasurer Alice Johnson delivered the treasurer’s report for May. She reported that the county’s total income was $1,228,211 and expenses totaled $832,036. The county’s bank balance was $480,745.43.
  • County Finance Director T.M. Thomas reported that the budgeted revenue for FY 2020 is $7,962,590. Revenues collected through May total $7,400,780. The county’s revenue currently exceeds expenditures by $657,070.

Thomas reported that the revenue for the Special Revenue Fund through May is $956,517 and expenditures are $912,771.

Thomas reported that the budgeted amount for the Enterprise Fund is $1,514,120, and $985,428 has been collected through May. Expenditures are $935,438 through May.

  • County Administrator Joey Preston reported that the county applied for a USDA grant for broadband funding. Preston stated that the county is seeking $11 million, which he said is the cost to provide broadband to the county. Preston said the county has partnered with Orangeburg County to apply for the funding.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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