BLUFFTON, SC (WSAV) – One day after Beaufort County allowed its mask ordinance to expire, the town of Bluffton is doing the same.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Bluffton Town Council voted 4-1 to allow the emergency mask ordinance to end.
“I didn’t feel bad about my vote on Tuesday,” explained Mayor Lisa Sulka.
Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka was one of four votes that led to the end of the mandatory mask policy.
“Three months ago I wouldn’t have changed my vote,” explains Sulka. “Today things are different, data is different.
Data shows 75% of 65 plus people in the area getting vaccinated, and more younger people stepping up for their dose as well.
“At this rate we are just rolling the dice,” explained Bluffton Councilman Fred Hamilton.
Mayor Pro-tem Fred Hamilton called himself the “Lone Ranger” after the council meeting. The only councilperson to vote to continue a mask mandate in town.
“We are not at a place where we need to relax,” said Hamilton. “Things are getting better but that I think is because we are taking some precautionary measures.”
“My conscience tells me I would rather be safe than sorry. I would hate to see anyone get sick. If I save one person’s life or save one person from getting infected then my sacrifice of wearing a mask is worth it.”
Sulka says the county’s decision to pull its mask mandate just the day before did play into her decision.
Walmart, Sam’s Club, and the Tanger Outlets are all technically part of the unincorporated county and directly next to many Bluffton businesses.
“It’s not what half the people wanted,” said Sulka. “My father died of COVD. This is important to me, I appreciate Mayor Pro-tem for taking his stance, and out of respect when I go in I’m going to wear my mask.”
“Could you have changed anybody’s mind?” News 3 asked Hamilton.
“No I couldn’t have changed anybody’s mind and honestly I didn’t try,” he said.
Both Sulka and Hamilton say the Town will decide what happens next. They each recommend respecting a business’s right to ask you to wear a mask. And make your own decision on what you feel is best for your own health.
“Continue to protect yourself wear a mask and continue to be as safe as you possibly can,” said Hamilton. “Don’t let your guards down now, it’s too early to think we are out of the woods.”
“We can always go back if we see data is going backward,” said Sulka. “and I will admit we made a mistake.”