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Face mask rules mostly not enforced in Pee Dee
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Face mask rules mostly not enforced in Pee Dee

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FLORENCE, S.C. — This week the Morning News visited several businesses in Florence and the Pee Dee region to learn how those businesses are complying with corporate or governmental face mask mandates. 

Of the businesses visited, one, the TA Florence Travel Center, requested that a a reporter wear a mask while in the facility. 

Piggly Wiggly: Marty Massey, store manager of the Florence Mall Piggly Wiggly, addressed the Florence Rotary Club Monday afternoon. 

Piggly Wiggly stores are independently operated. Therefore, there is no uniform mask policy for the stores. But the Florence Mall location is within the city of Florence where masks are mandated. 

In the city of Florence, masks are mandatory due to a proclamation issued by City Manager Randall Osterman and Mayor Stephen J. Wukela. That proclamation was subsequently ratified by an emergency ordinance approved by the city council at its July meeting. 

At one point during his speech, Massey estimated that 15% of the store's customers were not complying with the face mask ordinance. He added that those customers can become very angry when a store employee reminds them of the ordinance. Thus, his store does not enforce the ordinance. 

Walgreens: The Morning News visited the Walgreens at the corner of South Irby and Cherokee Road Wednesday afternoon.  

A COVID-19 FAQ on the Walgreens' website says that the store is requiring customers to wear masks except in cases when the mask could negatively affect the customer's health or the customer is under 2 years of age. 

This Walgreens is also within the city limits of Florence. 

There is a large sign on the front of the store advising customers that face masks are required for entry. However, there were no employees at the door to enforce the policy. 

The reporter visiting the store with mask in hand was greeted by the employee at the cash register. That employee said nothing as the reporter walked through the front of the store toward the aisle where the protein bars are located. 

The same employee checked the reporter out. Again, she said nothing about the reporter's lack of a mask while checking the reporter out. 

Subway: The Morning News visited the Subway on South Fifth Street in Hartsville on Wednesday evening. 

Most Subways are franchises and therefore no uniform mask policy exists. 

In Hartsville and unincorporated Darlington County, masks are encouraged but not required as of Wednesday afternoon.

There were no signs mandating wearing facial masks. However, there were signs enforcing social distancing and x's on the floor to indicate where customers should stand. Also, the seating area was closed. 

Several restaurants also seem to be taking this approach. The Chick-fil-A on South Irby Street in Florence had a sign out front saying dining inside was closed. 

And another Morning News employee reported that the South Irby Street Burger King had a similar policy. 

All of the store's employees were wearing masks. 

None of the employees spoke to the reporter about wearing a mask. 

TA Florence Travel Center: The Morning News visited the TA Florence Travel Center, the convenience store with the Popeye's Chicken, on Thursday evening. 

The travel center is in Florence County. Florence County has not taken any official action on masks, but Council Chairman Willard Dorriety Jr. has encouraged those watching the city council meeting to wear masks to combat the spread of the virus. 

There are also large signs on the doors indicating that masks are required. 

There were no employees at the doors to enforce the policy. However, a cashier did request that the reporter visiting wear a mask as he left to check the number of his gas pump. 

"I need you to put your mask on, sweetie,' she said. 

Harris Teeter: The Morning News visited the Harris Teeter at the corner of South Cashua Drive and West Palmetto Street Friday afternoon. 

There is a large sign on the door of the store advising customers that masks are required for entry but there where no employees at the front of the store. 

Also, the store previously had customers enter on one side of the store and exit on the other. However, that has since ended and both doors can be used for ingress or egress. 

The reporter walked through the front of the store and spoke with an employee but was not told to wear a mask. 

Walmart Neighborhood Market: The Morning News also visited the Walmart Neighborhood Market at the corner of South Cashua Drive and Second Loop Road Friday afternoon. 

Walmart previously implemented a store policy requiring face masks for customers but has since said it will take steps to enforce the policy but won't force customers without masks to leave the store. 

There were signs at the front of the building indicating that masks were required but there were no employees at the front to enforce the policy. 

The reporter entered the store and walked through the produce section, passing two men without masks and several employees gathered in the section. 

Then, the reporter went to the self-checkout area and paid for a drink. 

There was an employee with an iPad-like device by the exit door. She appeared to be working on the device but offered a parting wave to the reporter as he exited the store. 

Walmart: The reporter then traveled south to the Walmart on South Irby Street. 

There are signs at the front of the building saying that masks are required by state or local ordinance. There was an employee just inside the store, but he did not interact with the reporter when he entered the store. 

The Home and Garden entrances of the Walmart are closed, meaning all customers must enter through the grocery side.

The reporter visited the deli section just inside the store and then headed to the adjacent self-checkout area. One of the people who entered the line appeared to have no mask on. 

Another Walmart employee later directed the reporter to an open checkout area, saying nothing about wearing a mask. 

The employee by the door did check the reporter's receipt as he left the store. 

Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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