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Orangeburg businesses weigh requiring masks after mandate removed

It is now up to business owners whether customers must be required to wear masks.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — South Carolina business owners can now decide if customers are required to wear face masks inside of their businesses. 

"Although we respect what the Governor has decided, by us being a close contact business, we're going to continue to require our students and staff to wear masks," explained Barber Tech Academy co-founder Dashaun West.

Governor Henry McMaster recently nixed the mask mandate. Barber Tech Academy's co-founder says the timing isn't right at the moment to stop requiring masks in their industry.

"By being in close contact with the client, we have to protect ourselves and the clients," expressed West. "Although vaccinations are up, the virus is still here. We have to do what we need to protect ourselves and the clients."

The governor's orders prohibit local or county governments from relying on prior orders or a state emergency for a local mask mandate. The owners of The Original House of Pizza in Orangeburg are leaving that decision up to the customers.

"We think it's based on the customer," said Debra Williamson. "Our customers are why we come to work, so it's whatever the customer's comfortable is."

The general manager for the Italian and Greek-style restaurant, Melpo Pritcher, says they will not force staff or customers to wear face-coverings inside. She says their response will determine what House of Pizza will do in the future.

"We're going to see what the customers say about wearing a mask or not, and we will go from there based on the feedback from the customers," said Pritcher. "I want them to feel comfortable going to the tables, and I want the customers to feel comfortable coming in. It's going to be trial and error for us to see what we are going to do."

RELATED: Gov. McMaster says there will be no more mask mandates for SC

However, the decision on the mask has some customers thinking about life after COVID-19. 

"Personally, I'm going to wear the mask still because I'm taking care of an elderly father," said St. Matthews resident Rusell Perry. "My dad has been vaccinated. I got the first dose, and I get the second one in a few days. However, you don't want to play with that variable. I don't want to play around with his health or others around me."

RELATED: SC schools agency drops face mask policy, says governor incited 'hysteria'