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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

McMaster Issues 'Home Or Work' Order In South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster
U.S. Army
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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is ordering residents to stay home unless they're going to work or getting essentials in the state's latest attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And he called out one set of people he wants to see at work soon — South Carolina's lawmakers.

"Everyone under this order should stay home unless they're working, they're visiting family or recreating outdoors, unless they're obtaining necessary goods or services — and those are the limits," McMaster said Monday.

South Carolina has already directed "nonessential" businesses to temporarily close. The new order, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, doesn't add more businesses to that list, but it does mandate some new restrictions and allows for criminal penalties against people who disobey.

Retail stores have to limit customers to no more than five per 1,000 square feet or 20% capacity, whichever is less. Violations can land someone with a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and/or a $100 fine per day the order is disobeyed.

McMaster said those restrictions were previously suggestions, but that daily spikes in coronavirus cases and many people's refusal to practice social distancing drove him to make them mandatory.

"We've asked, we've urged, we've suggested," McMaster said. "... But the last week or so has shown that it's not enough. The rate of infection is on the rise, and the rate of noncompliance is on the rise."

State health officials on Monday said there have now been 2,232 cases of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus – confirmed by testing in South Carolina. That's an increase of 183 from Sunday, and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control says there's been an average of 187 new confirmed infections per day over the last week.

Forty-eight people have died from COVID-19 in South Carolina, according to state reports. It's important to note that not everyone who's sick can get tested, so there are likely more cases out there.

At least one South Carolina legislator has called for a two-week quarantine of the General Assembly, but McMaster urged lawmakers to go ahead and convene this week in Columbia.

"I am urging the General Assembly to come back to work on Wednesday as has been planned and get it done," McMaster said. "We have cashiers going to work. We have police officers going to work. We have all kinds of people going to work. There's no excuse for the members of the General Assembly not to come to work on Wednesday and take care of this vital business."

McMaster also recommended that churches live-stream their Easter services.

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