GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – As the pandemic rages on, COVID-19 cases in Greenville and Spartanburg counties are rising. On Monday, officials said they’re concerned about hospital capacity and nurses who are exhausted, which pushed the Greenville City Council to extend the city’s mask mandate.
The city of Greenville was the first municipality in the state of South Carolina to establish an emergency mask ordinance.
The mandate requires citizens, businesses and their employees to wear face coverings at all retail establishments.
This was an effort by city officials, which has continued since June, to slow the slow the spread of the virus.
“There are some days that Greenville County and Spartanburg County are accounting for half of the new cases in South Carolina,” Beth Brotherton said.
Some citizens have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the ordinance. Law enforcement has given out zero citations within the past 6 months.
Instead of cracking down on citizens, the Greenville Police Department is relying heavily “proactive enforcement”, which includes verbal warnings and educating those who are caught not complying.
“While they haven’t issued any citations yet they are issuing warnings and they are visiting businesses without notice like a pop quiz. They’re going to show up and make sure your business is following the rules,” Brotherton said.
According to Brotherton, the city receives approx. 4 complaints per week from citizens who’ve witnessed businesses violate the ordinance.
On the first offense, the city’s Economic Development Department calls the retail establishment to remind owners of the order. If the business receives a second complaint, thats when they send out law enforcement, Code Enforcement or the fire marshal to lay down the law.
“It [enforcing] was something that we did less of for a while, we were certainly hoping people at the bars and restaurants would talk to customers and ensure that their employees were following the rules. Now that the cases are continuing to increase and we’re moving into flu season, this is not the time for our crews to stand down,” Brotherton said.
The city is focused more on businesses and their employees than on independent citizens. Officials say it’s important for everyone to be a good neighbor by listening to the doctors and complying with the ordinance.
For more information on the ordinance, click here.