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Orangeburg City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the city’s mask mandate requiring face coverings in retail establishments and restaurants within the city limits.

The mask ordinance also requires staff and 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 ordinance also requires masks to be worn in large gatherings in the city such as festivals and parades for the next 60 days.

The mask ordinance takes effect immediately and will be in place through Dec. 19, 2021.

The ordinance says the extension is necessary due to the surge of the Delta variant and the number of unvaccinated individuals and children who are not eligible for the vaccine.

City Administrator Sidney Evering said the ordinance is not intended to be punitive, but an encouragement and incentive for individuals to wear masks.

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He was unaware of anyone who has been cited for violating the ordinance since it was implemented in August.

According to the ordinance, individuals could face up to a $25 fine and owners of establishments could face a fine of up to $100 if they do not comply with the mask mandate.

Employees of a business involved in home deliveries that do not wear a protective mask or sanitize their hands before presenting the item for delivery could be fined up to $50, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance also stipulates that business owners who fail to require masks of employees could have their business license suspended or revoked after repeated violations.

The business could also be declared a public nuisance if it does not follow the ordinance.

A $100 fine is also in place for any individual who organizes a large gathering if the individual does not disperse the gathering after receiving a warning.

An individual who does not leave within a two-minute period after being warned could face a fine of up to $50.

Exemptions to the mask ordinance include outdoor, unenclosed areas at retail establishments or restaurants; those whose religious beliefs prohibit the wearing of a mask; those with a medical condition; children under the age of 2; in private or individual office settings and while in a family or household setting.

Individuals dining in restaurants are allowed to remove their masks when served their meals and drinks.

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