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'If anyone is not socially distancing it is absolutely crazy,' says state hospitality association leader

Viewers are asking News 19 how restaurants are able to operate without wearing masks.

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Despite the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continuing to rise, several restaurants and public spaces throughout the Midlands are still operating under normal conditions.

This means that they are not requiring masks or the use of other personal protective equipment (PPE) for their customers or even their workers.

Over the weekend, several News 19 viewers asked how restaurants are able to do this when several cities in the Midlands have mask ordinances in place.

Here’s how: 

Mask ordinances have been put in place in Richland County, the City of Columbia and the Town of Lexington but have yet to be put in place in Lexington County. 

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Lexington County says restaurants are allowed to operate under normal conditions since a mask ordinance isn’t in place in the county.

But, some feel restaurant workers and customers should wear their masks and practice social distancing while in public.

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"I think it’s really important right now for people to do their part, and I think that, if you are going out to a restaurant, it’s just really important to know to keep your distance from people,” said one University of South Carolina student. 

Bobby Williams, who serves as the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association Chair says restaurants should start requiring masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

"If anyone is not socially distancing, it is absolutely crazy," William says. "This is serious. We've got to get this thing turned around, and I don’t know if masks are the answer, but it makes me feel safer and it makes customers who are doing the right thing feel safer.”

To find a restaurant that is implementing all recommended safety procedures, look for the Palmetto Priority Seal. To get the seal, restaurants have to pass a virtual state health department safety check. They also have a checklist of requirements, including mandating masks for employees, additional training for those employees, sanitation procedures on tables, and ways to make menus safer.

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