COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - Governor Henry McMaster is scaling back COVID-19 emergency orders and removing mask mandates for South Carolina restaurants and government buildings.
On Friday, Gov. McMaster issued Executive Order 2021-12, which modifies existing emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The executive order begins the process of facilitating the return of the remaining state employees back to the workplace on a full-time basis.
“Now that the majority of South Carolinians are eligible to receive the vaccine, and infections and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, state agency heads may safely bring back the last group of state employees working remotely,” Gov. McMaster said.
WBTV spoke with the general manager of a Fort Mill restaurant shortly after the governor’s announcement.
Alex Sanford, the GM of Killingtons in Fort Mill, said he wasn’t immediately changing protocol at the restaurant. All employees currently wear masks while working and a sign posted on the front door of the business reminds customers to wear their masks inside until they are seated.
“We’re gonna crawl, walk, run with it. We’re gonna figure out the best avenue. We’re gonna put policies and procedures in place We’re gonna wait about a week or so, find out a little more detail about it,” explained Sanford.
He said staff members will still be required to wear masks for the time being. He noted that one of his concerns is the comfort of customers when it comes to mask rules.
“If they feel comfortable with it, wear it, continue to wear it. If you don’t have to wear it, then you don’t have to wear it. We want everybody to feel comfortable and put it in your own hands,” said Sanford.
WBTV spoke to a few different South Carolina residents Friday night, asking them about their thoughts regarding McMasters’ announcement.
“I’m a little bit worried honestly. I think it’s a little bit premature to get so loose,” said Sonya Lewis.
Ceara Andersons said she will continue to wear her mask, but thinks people should be able to do what they want.
“I think it’s everybody’s choice to do what they want. I think that everybody should just be safe and make the right decision for themselves,” explained Anderson.
Jamel Myles said he thinks people will do what they want to do, regardless of the governor’s order.
“I understand from the governor’s standpoint that a lot of people want to get back to normal, but I think it’s a little bit too soon to get back to normal,” said Myles.
Sanford said he is looking forward to the day when his employees will no longer have to wear masks while working.
“It’ll be great to see people smile and I think our customers will love to see our employees smile and be able to do that so moving forward I think it’s a good move and I think we’ll be excited for it,” said Sanford.
The new order also removes previously mandatory face covering safety measures in state government offices, buildings, and facilities. It also authorizes the South Carolina Department of Administration to promulgate guidelines, in consultation with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, regarding the same (Section 2-B).
Additionally, the executive order recommends previously mandatory face covering safety measures in restaurants (Section 3-A).
Read the full order below.