McMaster ends South Carolina’s COVID-19-related state of emergency

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Henry McMaster has ended South Carolina’s ongoing pandemic-related state of emergency.

The Republican said during a news conference Monday that the coronavirus situation in the state had improved to the point that it was no longer necessary.

“It is no longer necessary to have a state of emergency, though it is still necessary for us to be smart, to follow the rules,” he said.

Over the course of the pandemic, McMaster has issued 30 separate emergency declarations. Those allowed him to put forth a plethora of accompanying executive orders allowing him to set temporary policies aimed at reining in the spread of COVID-19.

McMaster claimed South Carolina is in better shape than some other states that completely shut down. Though state health leaders regret the loss of nearly 10,000 people to COVID, McMaster said he believes the state took the right approach and wouldn’t have changed the response.

“We never did shut down in South Carolina -- we slowed down and as a result we’re on the rebound,” McMaster said.

Public health officials say about 1.6 million South Carolinians have completed the coronavirus vaccination process, or about 38% of the eligible population.

When asked, McMaster said no one should be forced to get the shot. He said the state’s goal was to make it available to anyone who wanted it and he felt like the state succeeded in doing that.

Jennifer McAliley owns Katyloo, a boutique in Baxter Village, and thinks the governor made the right call.

“I think it will be good for our business again,” she said. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of increase in sales and people out, and people shopping in just the last few months.”

Trav Robertson is the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

“The fact is Henry McMaster screwed up the handling of this pandemic from day one,” Robertson said.

He has been a critic of the governor’s COVID-19 response from the beginning, and he thinks he is declaring victory to soon.

“Henry McMaster is declaring the pandemic over based on economics and money, not because of science and let’s hope he’s right,” Robertson said.

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