CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – With the holidays here more people are hitting the bars to celebrate with friends and family. City leaders fear it could lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Charleston leaders are stepping up mask enforcement ahead of the holiday weekend in hopes of curbing a potential spike in cases.
Thanksgiving is known for a lot of things including travel, turkey, spending time with family and for some hitting the bars with friends and family to celebrate the occasion. Leaders say people should gather for the holiday but say they need to do it responsibly.
“If this doesn’t happen, then the City of Charleston here and the councilmembers, we’re going to have to make some drastic decisions,” says City Councilman Robert Mitchell.
Numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the city have remained low and steady since a July spike but leaders say the holiday could present a new challenge.
Knowing that people are visiting Charleston during the holiday season and they’re coming from areas of the country that may be hotspots,” says Dan Riccio, Director of Livability and Tourism for the City of Charleston.
With some returning home for possibly the first time this year ready to get together and celebrate, city leaders say mask wearing is more important now than ever.
“We’re going to start night patrols with the police department that is added enforcement resources in the King Street area, Upper King Street,” says Riccio.
The city’s Livability and Tourism Department is teaming up with the Charleston Police Department to increase education and enforcement of mask in areas wear mask wearing is lacking.
“We want to motivate people to be responsible and you know take proactive steps to help to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” says Riccio.
New case numbers remain low across city zip codes but leaders worry that could change quickly if people aren’t gathering responsibly.
“We just want to be vigilant, we want to make sure that we have the resources necessary,” says Riccio.
The number of citations handed out sits at 98, a number that’s up from 82 this time last week and a number officials expect to rise.
“I have increased the numbers of officers enforcing the mask ordinance there for more tickets are trending higher,” says Riccio.
A Thanksgiving full of change, leaders say it’ll take a team for a return to normal.
“We want people to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families but we want people to be responsible,” says Riccio.
The two departments will team up and increase patrols together on Friday and Saturday nights in anticipation of more people in and around the bar and entertainment districts downtown.