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Local businesses react to new CDC and DHEC mask recommendations

The CDC is recommending mask wearing for everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike in the country.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new guidance for mask wearing. Everyone is encouraged to wear a mask when they are in substantial or high transmissible areas, even if they are fully vaccinated.

Following Governor McMaster's order to ban mask mandates in South Carolina, some businesses in the state are stuck, trying to decide what to do. One barbershop owner said they are leaving that decision to their staff and patrons.  

"We’re leaving it up to the customers if they want to wear a mask or not," said Lisa Michaelis, Owner of Southern Gentleman's Barbering. "One of our Barbers is choosing to wear a mask. Our barbers can wear a mask. We aren't mandating, but they can choose to wear a mask. But as far as the clients go, we are leaving it totally up to them. If they want to wear a mask while they get their haircut, then they do so. We are not requiring them to do so."

Michaelis said her staff is fully vaccinated and they are continuing extensive cleaning measures. She said to keep staff and customers safe and healthy, they have hand sanitizer all over, wiping down all surfaces and furniture, as well as sanitizing all the capes. 

RELATED: CDC reverses course on indoor masks in parts of US where COVID is surging

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced they are changing their mask recommendations to align with the new guidance from the CDC. 

"We’re following the CDC’s recommendation and recommending that all South Carolinians, including those who are fully vaccinated, wear their masks indoors and in public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission," said Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist.   

RELATED: All South Carolinians should wear masks indoors again, DHEC says

According to DHEC, 41 out of 46 counties in the state fall under the high transmission rate category. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said substantial rates are 50 to 100 cases per 100,000 residents in a county over a 7 day period. High rates are over 100 cases person 100,000 residents in a county in a 7 day period.

Dr. Bell said DHEC will continue to offer the best recommendation to the public and the governor, to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

RELATED: Are you in a 'high transmission' COVID-19 area? Here's a map – and the data behind it

"The governor has encouraged vaccinations and the governor has encouraged safety protocols as well," said Dr. Bell. "Ultimately, DHEC will adhere to state laws, but we continue to encourage residents to do everything that they can do to protect themselves, to protect their health, and to protect their families and our communities."

RELATED: USC releases COVID plan for students for the upcoming school year

Haley Winetrob, manager of women's clothing store Vestique, said the business is not requiring marks in their store for vaccinated shoppers. 

"We also would prefer for customers who are not vaccinated to have masks on in stores," Winetrob said. "It’s kind of the honor code right now, because we can’t really ask people if they’re vaccinated or not."

Winetrob said the business does have a sign on the door, recommending masks for unvaccinated shoppers. She said the company will continue to follow safety guidelines and do what's best for their staff and customers. 

"If the policy changes, like the guidelines, and the owners believe it would be best for the company, we’ll have a sign on the door that says masks required or not," Winetrob said.