Gov. McMaster easing restrictions on some SC retailers, beach access

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday he is canceling orders that closed beaches and limited some retail businesses.

McMaster said he is letting mayors and city council make their own decisions about opening public access to beaches, piers, docks, ramps, etc. Groups of three people or more are not allowed and will be dispersed.

Beaches may reopen Tuesday at noon.

The governor also canceled his order to close retail businesses except for pick-up and delivery. That cancellation goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday. However, the stores must adhere to previous mandates that require an occupancy limit of five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20% of posted occupancy limits, whichever is less.

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“We are still in a very serious situation,” McMaster said. “We know this virus spreads easily, and we know it is deadly, particularly to our people who are older or have diseases that have suppressed their immune systems.”

As of Monday afternoon, 4,439 people in South Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 64 from Sunday. The state’s Department of Health and Environmental Concern also announced four new deaths related to COVID-19, meaning 124 South Carolinians have died from complications of the virus since March 16.

But McMaster said he’s seen “compliance and common sense” among residents and he thinks reopening businesses can be done safely. Law enforcement officers still have the ability to break up groups of three or more if police deem the gatherings a threat to public health.

“This is a gradual step,” McMaster said. “Don’t misunderstand. We are not opening up all businesses as usual, by any means.”

Neighbors have mixed feelings about it. Some said they worry it’s too soon and others said they’re excited to see businesses opening. Some also said they would like if McMaster adds other nonessential stores to the list, such as salons and gyms.

“Until they have a better understanding of what’s going on and if they’re starting to contain this virus, they should keep things in place the way they are,” said neighbor Chris Brown.

“I think it’s good we’re getting things back open," said neighbor Kimberly McCasland.

But with the number of coronavirus cases still steady in South Carolina, many are asking why the governor is making this decision now.

“It’s not like all the cases are gone. There’s still some and with the stores opening back up, the cases are going to rise again,” said one neighbor.

Beach Access being reopened next week.

Posted by Stephen Goldfinch on Saturday, April 18, 2020

The beaches in South Carolina have been closed since March 30.

Gov. Henry McMaster Creates accelerateSC, a Coordinated Economic Revitalization Plan

Recognizing the impact of COVID-19’s impact to South Carolina’s economy, Governor Henry McMaster today announced the creation of accelerateSC, a coordinated economic revitalization plan involving small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials, and education professionals.

The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information. James Burns, a partner at the law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough, will serve as accelerateSC’s executive director. Burns and the rest of the membership are serving in a voluntary capacity. For further information about accelerateSC and its members, visit the governor’s website here.

Gov. McMaster and Lt. Governor Pamela Evette will attend and lead the first meeting of accelerateSC on Thursday of this week. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Re-Opening of Public Beach Access, Limited Retail Stores

Governor McMaster also issued Executive Order 2020-28, which removes restrictions on public access points to the state’s beaches, public piers, docks, and wharfs, while delegating to local officials the authority to restrict access, as they see fit.

This order also re-opens retail stores that were closed pursuant to Executive Order 2020-18. The businesses to be reopened are as follows:

  • Furniture and home-furnishings stores
  • Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Department stores, with the exception of hardware and home-improvement stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Book, craft, and music stores
  • Flea markets
  • Florists and flower stores

All other businesses previously closed by executive order will remain closed until further notice.

Under the order, retail stores may reopen today, Monday, April 20, at 5:00 p.m., but must adhere to strict social distancing requirements, operating at 20% occupancy or five (5) customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. In addition, businesses must not knowingly allow customers to congregate within six feet of one another, excluding families, and follow relevant CDC and DHEC guidelines.

Public beach access points, piers, docks, and wharfs may reopen tomorrow, April 21, at noon. Public boat ramps and boat landings were previously reopened pursuant to Executive Order 2020-25.

All other executive orders, including the Governor’s “Home or Work” order, remain in effect. South Carolinians should maintain social distancing practices and avoid large groups of people.


In North Carolina, one group is hoping a town will open up its beaches and businesses. On Friday, a group called Reopen Carolina Beach held a protest.

They said they know the area can’t just reopen at once, so they handed out index cards for everyone to write down their ideas for doing it safely.

Some business owners are asking that they can partially open their dining rooms, while other protestors just want the beach open.

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“Why can I go into Walmart and stand around hundreds of people but I can’t go surfing? Surfing ain’t a crime folks! Walking down the beach ain’t a crime folks!" said a protestor.

The group is sending their index cards of ideas to the Carolina Beach town council in hopes they’ll consider it.

So far, Atlantic and Surf City beaches have opened their beaches back up, with several restrictions still in place.

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