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130 mask citations written over 3 days as City of Columbia cracks down on ordinance

Face mask ordinance was extended by Columbia City Council on Nov. 5 to run through January 2021, increased individual fines to $100

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you think the City of Columbia isn't serious about enforcing the extended face mask ordinance, think again.

Just as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and people are returning home for family gatherings, the number of COVID-19 cases reported is starting to increase. In the past week, -- from Sunday, Nov. 15, to Saturday, Nov. 21 -- there have been 9,934 cases of the virus reported in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins reported on Sunday, Nov. 22, that the fire department wrote 130 citations over a 3-day period to people who were in violation of the ordinance that states that face masks should be worn in public by everyone over the age of 10. 

27 citations were written Thursday, Nov. 19; 64 citations were written on Friday, Nov. 20; and 39 citations were written on Saturday, Nov. 21.

When Columbia City Council extended the mask ordinance during a special called meeting on Nov. 5, council also increased the fines from $25 per individual to $100. It also allowed for businesses to be fined per visit by the fire department -- for example, if your business gets fined on Monday and the fire department returns on Tuesday and still finds non-compliance with the ordinance, your business gets fined again.

The ordinance states that every person over the age of 10 is required to wear a mask in the following situations:

  • Inside a building open to the public
  • Waiting to enter a building open to the public
  • Interacting with people in outdoor spaces, including but not limited to curbside pick-up, delivery and service calls
  • When engaging in business activities in private spaces
  • Utilizing public or private transportation
  • Walking in public where maintaining a distance of six (6) feet between other members of the public at all times is not possible.

Columbia's face mask ordinance is in place through January 2021. You can check on other South Carolina counties and municipalities with mask ordinances here.