Beaufort County Sheriff says deputies will use ‘common sense’ enforcing mask ordinance

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PJ Tanner believes mandatory mask ordinances are important to health of Beaufort County citizens

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Deputies will have to enforce that ordinance on Hilton Head Island, and possibly the whole county.

Their Sheriff says these men and women are up to the task.

“The Tourism aspect is what’s important but the public safety aspect is what i consider.” said Sheriff PJ Tanner.

Sheriff PJ Tanner considers the ordinances that have been passed in Hilton Head, Bluffton and Beaufort “good” for the safety of the people who live here or want to come vacation here.

Tanner says his deputies will be mindful of any people or businesses who aren’t following the mask ordinance, and the calls that will come into his office “outing” them for breaking the law.

But Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputies will not be enforcing the ordinance at the expense of other, more serious crimes.

“Deputies will be very conscious of what they do they will use common sense,’ says Tanner. “They will use their discretion, and they will write tickets when tickets need to be written and they will give out warnings and verbal warnings when they feel they can accomplish the mission by doing that. and then moving on to the next case.”

There is up to a $500 criminal misdemeanor fine and 30 days in jail connected to the resolution as well as possible business license sanctions for local spots who don’t obey the new rules

“Our citizens need to go grocery shopping,” said Tanner.”Our citizens need to go to the pharmacy. our citizens need to go to a doctor’s appointment and we want to make sure that when they do that. When they get there they feel comfortable and don’t feel like they will be in a hot spot.”

If you do want to report someone not following the rules don’t call 911, but call the Beaufort County Sheriff’s non-emergency number at (843)524-2777.

The Sheriff says education will be the key. He is going to ask the Hilton Head Fire Department to help tourists learn about the policy before tickets are being handed out. He also hopes to create a training video for everyone in the county on the proper way to wear a mask.

Sheriff Tanner is also working on the testing side of the issue. He is talking to State Senator Tom Davis and the Beaufort County school system on setting up rotating testing sites at local schools through the county. Once a week at a local school in Beaufort, Bluftfon, Hilton Head, Sheldon, and Lady’s Island for example.

That way everyone has a chance for a free test over the next two months. We should then have a better idea if the mask policy is working and slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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