Orangeburg County will once again require face masks in county government buildings and vehicles following an increase in the number of coronavirus cases among county employees.

“We have had an uptick in county employees that have been positive,” Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

One employee currently has a severe case of the virus that has required intensive care unit treatment.

“We feel to protect the employees and to be able to keep the function of county government, we need to go back to the face coverings in county buildings so that we can protect the employees of the county to make sure we provide the services they need on a daily basis,” he said.

The previous ordinance had been allowed to expire on Dec. 3. Orangeburg County Council agreed unanimously to resume the requirements on Monday.

The rules are in effect for the next 60 days, unless Orangeburg County Council ends them earlier.

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The ordinance does not mandate masks be worn at business establishments within the county. That decision is left up to each individual business.

However, the City of Orangeburg requires face coverings in retail establishments and restaurants within the city limits. The rules will be in place through Feb. 16, 2022.

The city requires employees of retail establishments and restaurants within the city to wear masks while working in areas open to the public.

Staff must also wear masks when interactions with other staff are likely and social distancing cannot be observed.

The city’s ordinance also requires masks during large gatherings in the city, such as festivals and parades.

People visiting Orangeburg County’s courthouse and courtrooms will have to continue wearing masks, as previously ordered by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Wayne Beatty.

DHEC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended the use of cloth face coverings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks are still encouraged in indoor public places.

The CDC also recommends everyone eligible get vaccinated.

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