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Masks no longer required in South Carolina restaurants

While some restaurant owners are excited for the lighter restrictions, others are concerned.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolinians been wearing masks for a year. Now, an executive order by the governor says masks are no longer required attire for restaurants in the Palmetto State. 

On Friday, March 5, Gov. McMaster issued Executive Order 2021-12, which modifies existing emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing rules on mask wearing at restaurants and state government buildings to be relaxed.

RELATED: SC governor drops mask requirement at restaurants, state government buildings

Black Rooster owner and chef Kristian Niemi says masks still serve a purpose. 

"It really hasn't changed anything for my staff and restaurant in general," Niemi said. "We will continue to wear masks at the restaurant ... Because of the variants sweeping across the nation and the fact that we really aren't there yet with vaccinations, we're going to continue full masking."

Credit: WLTX

RELATED: Mask mandates and dining out can affect COVID spread, CDC study finds

Niemi says his staff will stay masked and all customers entering and moving around within the restaurant will be required to wear one as well.

Across town, on Devine Street, customer Marina Lanzot isn't taking the risk. If her server isn't wearing a mask, she "Would probably leave," Lanzot said. "When we talk, saliva comes out of our mouth, even when we don't even see it."

RELATED: 'It has become unnecessary': SC governor explains why he lifted limited mask mandate

Will Gillespie with Urban Cookhouse says he had to weigh up the options. He says while staff will be masked, patrons have the choice. "I really hope it will get people back to dining out at restaurants," Gillespie said. "We're not going to require customers to wear a mask ... We're going to continue to keep the tables separated and we have a huge outdoor area."

RELATED: Where in South Carolina are face masks still required?