COLUMBIA, S.C. — Governor Henry McMaster is calling on counties and local governments to enact ordinances requiring face masks.
He also announced that all previously recommended guidelines for restaurants and other establishments that attract groups of people are now mandatory.
These measures will go into effect Monday, Aug. 3rd.
McMaster said in his recent press conference, “we need to prepare for the worst. We have to have local leadership involved in stopping the spread of the virus and keeping people safe.”
The governor also ordered face coverings must be worn in all state government buildings, according to guidelines and procedures developed by the state Department of Administration, effective Aug. 5th.
The governor pointed out that many national chain retailers have mask requirements for entry. He rattled off the names of dozens of stores that have taken this step.
The guidelines for restaurants, first established by AccelerateSC, have been strongly recommended until now. They are now mandatory and include the following:
- Operating dine-in services at no more than 50% of the certificate of occupancy issued by the fire marshal.
- Employees and patrons shall be required to wear masks or face coverings.
- Tables are to be spaced to keep diners at least six feet apart.
- No more than 8 customers per table unless from the same family.
- Standing or congregating in bar area of restaurant is prohibited.
- Establishments that possess a state permit to sell alcohol shall be subject to these restrictions.
McMaster did mention the statewide Palmetto Priority program that has now approved 2,554 restaurants with the housekeeping seal of approval. The governor says this is a way to give customers confidence that these requirements are being followed with cleaning in the restaurant and inside the kitchen.
Other types of businesses, facilities, venues, events or mass gatherings, which are permitted to open but are required to implement AccelerateSC guidelines include the following: festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance, halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks or similarly operated entities. These guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Attendance may not exceed 50% of the certificate of occupancy issued by the fire marshal – or 250 persons – whichever is less.
- Require the wearing of masks or face coverings as a condition of admission or participation
- Enact social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices as recommended by AccelerateSC
- End the sale of alcohol at 11:00 PM
Businesses, event organizers and others responsible for events that may exceed the occupancy rules may receive clarification allowing the event to proceed if they can satisfactorily demonstrate an ability to comply with federal and state COVID-19 procedures and protocols to the Department of Commerce.
“These limited restrictions are temporary, they are measured and they are targeted towards what we know works, McMaster said. “These measures give South Carolina the best chance to slow the spread of the virus without shutting down the state’s economy, which we cannot and will not do as many continue to call for.”
The governor is directing all county and city officials to enforce all these orders and any prior or future orders. The penalty is a misdemeanor. The violator must be fined not more than $100 or 30 days in prison.
“Be courteous and use grace,” McMaster said. He admits he’ll face criticism, “that’s okay, we get criticism for everything we do.”
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