13 of South Carolina’s 15 Largest Cities Pass Mask Mandates In COVID-19 Crisis. Here Are The Details

Get your masks ready, SC.

In late June, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson essentially gave the OK for municipalities to pass their own face mask mandates in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the days following that announcement, town officials across the Palmetto State quickly got to work drafting mask ordinances as a way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in South Carolina.

Gov. Henry McMaster, who has been mostly absent and quiet during the peak of the pandemic in South Carolina, has showed no intentions of issuing a statewide mandate, despite surging cases and increasing hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

South Carolina was one of the last states to issue a stay at home order and among the first states to lift COVID-19 lockdowns and open businesses, beginning on May 4.

Now, South Carolina is among a few states leading the nation in new cases per capita.

The ordinances do vary from town to town. Hilton Head Island, for instance, appears to have the harshest punishment for violators, while Charleston’s mandate is perhaps the most widespread, covering virtually every realm of the public.

We could start seeing larger mandates at the county level in the next week, also. Colleton became the first county to issue a countywide mask mandate this week.

Here is a list (as of July 7) of the 15 largest cities by population in South Carolina and details of the municipalities’ mandates.

(Click the name of the city to review the ordinance or see the latest mask-related update from the town)

Charleston (population: 134K)

Starting July 1, persons must wear face masks at all indoor restaurants and retail stores, when closely interacting with others outdoors, and on public transportation.

Exemptions: Those working out, eating or drinking, kids under 10, people with medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from wearing face masks.

Punishment: $50 fine

Columbia (population: 133K)

Starting June 26, people must wear face masks in public spaces including retail stores and restaurants. All employees who interact with the public must wear face masks at work. Everyone outside who isn’t practicing social distancing must wear face masks.

Exemptions: Children under 11, anyone with a medical condition preventing them from safely wearing masks. Masks are not required at churches. Face coverings can be removed while eating or drinking but must be worn otherwise.

Punishment: Unclear… it says “the enforcement of this ordinance is not designed to be punitive. Enforcement will begin with education and may increase to fines or more, depending on the circumstance and severity of
the violation(s).”

North Charleston (population 110K)

Starting July 3, people must wear masks within the city of North Charleston when entering an indoor business or a government building, also in any indoor public space where social distance cannot be maintained.

Exemptions: Children under 5, adults eating or drinking, people in private offices, anyone who can’t wear a face mask due to medical reasons, and people in settings “where it is not practical or feasible.”

Punishment: Violations will only be issued to businesses and organizations that fail to comply.

Mount Pleasant (population 84K)

Starting July 1, face coverings will be required for all persons entering grocery stores, pharmacies, and town buildings. Face coverings are also required for all employees at restaurants, retail stores, barber shops, pharmacies and town buildings.

Exemptions: Children under 12, those with certain medical conditions and religious beliefs that prevent them from wearing face coverings.

Punishment: Fine up to $25 for customers, $100 for employees. Business owners not complying could get licenses and permits taken away.

Rock Hill (population 72K)

Starting July 10, face coverings will be required within Rock Hill City limits inside government buildings, while using public transportation, while inside any retail business or restaurant. Employees are required to wear masks while outside interacting with customers when social distancing can’t be maintained.

Exemptions: Children under 10, in food establishments when social distancing is maintained, people with certain religious beliefs, anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing masks. Also not required “in settings where it is not practical or feasible to wear a face covering, such as in a gym while exercising, swimming, or obtaining services involving the head, face or scalp, such as dental work” or in offices.

Punishment: Fines from $25 to $100

Greenville (population 66K)

Starting June 23, masks required for customers inside grocery stores and pharmacies. Employees at restaurants retail shops, barber shops and salons.

Exemptions: Anyone who can not wear a face covering due to age or medical condition.

Punishment: Fine up to $25 for customers, $100 for employees. Business owners not complying could get licenses and permits taken away.

Summerville (population 51K)

Starting July 1 through July 9 (unless renewed or terminated by council), anyone in the public must wear face masks in all retail stores and restaurants.

No punishment or exemptions listed.

Goose Creek (population 41K)

Starting July 6, face masks are required within Goose Creek city limits for persons inside any retail store and retail employees while interacting with the public.

Exemptions: Children under 10, people who have certain religious beliefs, people in private offices, when complying with law enforcement, and in settings where it is not practical (while eating or drinking).

Punishment: Not listed in proclamation.

Sumter (population 40K)

Starting July 3, all customers inside restaurants or retail businesses (or outdoors if social distancing not applicable), and all employees who work in areas of the public where social distancing is not possible must wear face coverings.

Exemption: When complying with law enforcement, children under 8, customers eating or drinking, people with health conditions, people in private offices.

Punishment: $50 fine

Hilton Head Island (population 40K)

Starting June 30, the ordinance requires members of the public and employees to wear face masks at any indoor commercial business within Hilton Head Island. This includes: grocery stores, restaurants, lobbies and public spaces in hotels, motels and timeshare complexes, pharmacies, bars, salons, retail stores, medical and dental offices.

Exemptions: Masks will not be required for those who are eating or drinking or persons unable to wear a masks due to certain medical conditions.

Punishment: Those who violate the ordinance face a penalty of up to a $500 fine or 30 days in jail

Florence (population 39K)

Starting July 6, any customer or employee must wear a mask while inside all retail businesses and restaurants.

Exemptions: Those who have medical conditions/ religious beliefs preventing them from wearing face masks, children under 6, customers while they are dining.

Punishment: Not Listed

Spartanburg (population 38K)

Staring June 29, masks are required for customers and employees inside grocery stores and pharmacies. Employees at restaurants retail shops, barber shops and salons are also required to wear masks.

Exemptions: Persons with certain medical conditions religious beliefs that prevent them from wearing masks, or anyone complying with direction of law enforcement officers.

Punishment: $25 for customers and $100 for employees. Business owners not complying could get licenses and permits taken away.

Myrtle Beach (population 32K)

Starting July 4, Myrtle Beach will require persons and employees to wear masks inside retail stores and restaurants. Employees at hotels and rentals are also required to wear face coverings.

Exempt: Children under 10, anyone with medical conditions preventing them from wearing masks, people who are dining at restaurants, people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing masks, in settings where it is not practical or feasible.

Punishment: Up to a $100 fine.

Aiken (population 30K)

On July 2, Aiken leaders approved a resolution encouraging people to wear face masks in indoors when they are not social distancing, but they have not issued a mandate.

Greer (population 30K)

As of July 3, Greer leaders have not issued a mask ordiance.

Other South Carolina Cities/ Counties

Planning on a trip to the beach? Coastal communities such as Kiawah Island, Beaufort, Camden, Folly Beach, Sullivans Island and North Myrtle Beach.

Counties: Richland, Beaufort, Colleton, Horry



Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to



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