Mask up

At least for now, Conway's mask mandate is gone, but people can still require them in their retail businesses, restaurants and offices, if they choose. 

Conway’s mask mandate officially ended Tuesday morning, but that doesn’t mean that individual business owners can’t require people to wear masks if it makes them feel safer and more comfortable.

In a 4-3 vote Monday evening, council voted to lift its state of emergency that has been in effect for almost a year now and, along with it, the requirement for people to wear masks.

Voting to lift the mandate were council members William Goldfinch, Alex Hyman, Shane Hubbard and Justin Jordan.

Before the vote was taken, City Administrator Adam Emrick gave some COVID statistics from March of 2020 compared to this past March showing that the number of cases has dropped.

But Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy and Councilmembers Jean Timbes and Larry White were hesitant to let the city’s mask requirement go just yet.

The Mayor said she’d be comfortable, perhaps in 30 days, if the numbers continue to go down.

Councilman Shane Hubbard said he went shopping with his wife in Myrtle Beach Saturday when they went into Home Goods.

He recalled that there were “zero people” inside the store not wearing masks, so he’s convinced that personal responsibility is the way to proceed at this point.

Councilman Alex Hyman agreed, but said he will continue to require masks in his office and others can control what happens in their businesses. He agreed that personal responsibility is the way to go.

Timbes didn’t want to drop the mandate until they see what changes might be coming now that tourists are headed back to this area. Also, she wondered what impact having children back in school might have on the COVID numbers.

However, she said, if the mandate is gone, council should consider returning to its chambers upstairs in the Conway City Hall for its meeting.

They have been meeting at the Conway Recreation and Fitness Center for months now where they can be distanced from each other and staff.

She said she thinks people have not liked council having the more informal meetings.

She also pointed out that all of the council members have been vaccinated and at the City Hall they can limit the number of people who are allowed inside the council chambers.

Timbes also said she wants to keep “streaming” the meetings on Zoom the way they have been doing at their temporary meeting site.

Removing the state of emergency presents another issue, and that’s allowing downtown restaurants to have parking spaces for people to pick up their orders without having to go inside.

Groucho’s has two spaces, the Pickled Cucumber has several and The Trestle is using three or four in Norman Alley for its outdoor diners.

Emrick asked for 30 days to figure out how the city might deal with this issue.


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