Masks will no longer be required in retail establishments, restaurants and large gatherings in the city limits of Orangeburg beginning Sunday, April 17.

Orangeburg City Council did not vote to extend the mask mandate when council gathered Thursday, which means the rules will be allowed to expire on April 16.

The city has required masks since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Prior to letting the mask mandate expire, Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt said she has received calls about some city employees going into city businesses without masks.

“Here we are as council and as administrator, the mayor advocating that we should wear the mask,” Keitt said. “Even if you don’t like it, I don’t like it but I wear it.”

“It is bad to say that we are saying that this is what we need to do and our employees are not even listening to what we are saying,” Keitt said. “It is embarrassing. It tells me that you don’t want to do what we ask you to do. If we do not do that, then something needs to be done with you.”

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Keitt asked city department heads and directors to take the employees aside, talk to them and give them a chance to follow the mask mandate.

She said if they do not, they should be terminated.

The mask mandate was allowed to expire due to the falling number of COVID cases in the city and the county.

Only one Orangeburg County resident tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to figures from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

No city or Department of Public Utilities employees have tested positive for the virus as of April 7. Currently about 150 of the city’s 197 employees are vaccinated and 162 of DPU’s 200 employees are vaccinated.

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