McMaster issues targeted mask rule across SC, OKs more reopenings

Guidelines for SC restaurants, other businesses once recommendations, now mandatory

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday signed an executive order that will require face masks for all employees and patrons at restaurants, among other safety guidelines.

McMaster announced during a news conference that all previously recommended guidelines of restaurants and other establishments that attract groups are now mandatory.

“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,” McMaster said.

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The governor’s executive order for new measures will go into effect Monday. Counties and cities in South Carolina were called on to enact mask ordinances at the local level.

All businesses in the state can open, which includes theaters and concert halls. Masks will be required inside restaurants, and masks must be worn inside all state government buildings starting next week.

“These limited restrictions are temporary, they are measured, and they are targeted toward what we know works,” said McMaster.

The governor said all South Carolinians should wear face coverings when appropriate, and he encouraged local governments to adopt face-covering ordinances. McMaster also ordered that face coverings must be worn starting Aug. 5 in all state government buildings according to guidelines and procedures developed by the state Department of Administration.

“Local leadership is the answer to get where we’re going,” McMaster said. He said local leadership should act to keep people safe.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said Wednesday that there were 1,666 new confirmed cases and 48 additional confirmed deaths because of COVID-19.

These guidelines for restaurants, first established by AccelerateSC, have been 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 a restaurant is prohibited.
  • Establishments that possess a state permit to sell alcohol shall be subject to these restrictions.

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 p.m.

The state is not going to shut down again, but will move forward and keep the economy open, the governor said. He said the measures will work if people follow them.

“Be courteous, and use grace,” McMaster said.

He admitted he’ll face criticism.

“That’s OK, we get criticism for everything we do,” he said.

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