Wearing a face mask in public spaces within the limits of the City of Charleston is not a recommendation, it’s a requirement. Pedestrians showing a bare face on public sidewalks, streets and right-of-ways are subject to be fined to the fullest extent of the COVID-19 mandate.
And Daniel Island could see stricter enforcement starting this week.
A record number of mask-violation citations were issued by the city earlier this month. Over a week-and-a-half stretch from Jan. 11-21, 141 tickets were issued by the city’s Livability Code Enforcement (LCE) officers.
The sweep of citations was an unannounced “saturation patrol” following the post-holiday spike of positive COVID-19 cases. All were issued downtown and all were first offenses, according to the city’s Department of Livability and Tourism Director Dan Riccio.
He estimated the total amount in fines was approximately $14,000. The fine for the first offense is $100, the second offense is $200, and the third offense and any thereafter is $500.
The surge of citations represents 40% of the total ticketing since the emergency ordinance was enacted July 2020.
“It’s not to generate money, it’s to save lives,” Riccio said. “... The monetary value is enough to get your attention.”
On Jan. 12, the Charleston City Council passed an executive order extending the city-wide mask ordinance through March 12. This applies to Daniel Island, West Ashley, James Island and Johns Island.
Riccio said that surveillance of Daniel Island is more of a reactionary response to citizens complaining about business employees not adhering to the ordinance. He noted the most common repeat offenders are individuals conducting business, not a resident or
tourist perusing or shopping.
“Most people get it after the first time,” he added. “There’s a few stubborn people that don’t get it.”
Riccio couldn’t recall any recent citations issued on Daniel Island. He said if any at all it would amount to a handful at most.
Starting this week, two days at random, Riccio’s task force of two teams — two LCE officers and a Charleston police officer on each team — will monitor Daniel Island, James Island and Johns Island.
Riccio didn’t specify the hours of surveillance because the mask checks are designed to be covert in nature.
Charleston Police Department Lt. Matt Wojslawowicz of Team 5, who oversees Daniel Island, compassionately reflected on the rigors of the coronavirus and the stressors of the mask ordinance.
“Everyone’s health and well being is paramount to us,” Wojslawowicz said. “It’s a short-term sacrifice for long-term health and safety of everybody. Hopefully very soon we’ll all be through this and this will all just be a terrible nightmare for us to re-live and tell our grandkids down the road.”
Editor's Note: This is not a new ordinance, but the City of Charleston has increased enforcement. Here are links to the ordinance itself that has been extended into March, and to the FAQ sheet the city has provided about the ordinance.