S.C. governor announces targeted mask requirements, reopens more businesses

Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - Gov. Henry McMaster has announced a mask requirement at several establishments in South Carolina, and has reopened more businesses in the state.

On Aug. 3, several types of entertainment businesses, facilities, venues, events or mass gatherings are permitted to open, but are required to implement AccelerateSC guidelines.

These businesses include festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance, halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks, or similarly operated entities.

For The Showtime Theater Company, the great outdoors has become the great stage. Co-founder Robert Read says his traveling thespians have not had a chance to perform.

”Not to be able to do that it’s disappointing and sad and frustrating. It’s all the emotions you can think of,” says Read.

Read is extremely happy to go back to the teathre. “We appreciate that Governor McMaster has the arts in mind,” he says. “Arts are always the first thing to go the first thing to get cut and it’s very very hard to keep people engaged in the arts so we appreciate anybody and everybody who helps us do that.” However, he realizes there is going safety has to be at the forefront as well.

Governor McMaster announced places like Read’s theatre have to follow. 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 p.m.

All previously recommended guidelines for restaurants and other establishments that attract groups of people are now mandatory.

Gov. McMaster is also calling on cities and counties to enact mask requirements.

The governor’s Executive Order establishing these new measures will go into effect Monday, August 3.

Alos, additional guidelines for restaurants are now mandatory and include the following:

  • Operating dine-in services at no more than 50 percent 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 eight 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.

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,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “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.”

Despite the precautions, some people are questioning if it is too early. South Carolina is still a coronavirus hotspot, according to the White House. WBTV’s four counties across the border are all classified as ‘Red Zones’ which means test positivity results are still above 10 percent. but McMaster says he is not going to close anything down again.

”We’re not gonna do that. It’s not good for our mental health. It’s not good for our economic health. It’s not good for families and it’s not good for children,” says McMaster.

Additionally, the governor continued his call for all South Carolinians to wear face coverings when appropriate, and he encouraged local governments to adopt face covering ordinances.

“If we’re going to open the businesses, we’re going to have to be careful,” he says. “That means you’ve got to wear a mask, you’ve got to keep that distance, you’ve got to wash your hands. You’ve got to be careful.”

The governor also ordered that face coverings must be worn in all state government buildings according to guidelines and procedures developed by the state Department of Administration, effective Aug. 5.

The penalty for not following these orders is up to $100 fine and/or at most 30 days in jail.

Those guidelines, and more, can be found here.

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