SC Gov. McMaster Orders 'Nonessential' Businesses Closed

Mar 31, 2020

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday issued his strictest orders for the state yet amid the coronavirus outbreak, declaring that all nonessential businesses must close down.

Businesses affected in the order fall into three categories: entertainment venues, athletic facilities and close-contact service providers and include such businesses as gyms, spas, hair salons, theaters, museums and performing arts centers.

The order goes into effect Wednesday and lasts for 15 days.

The order does not apply to grocery stores, drug stores, pharmacies and other businesses deemed “essential.”

McMaster has been hesitant to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, as 32 other states in the country already have, including North Carolina. North Carolina's stay-at-home order went into effect Monday.

"We must do everything we can to stop the spread, be as aggressive as we can be using the facts, the science and the data and the knowledge and recommendation of the experts in the field," McMaster said. "But at the same time, not going too far and destroying businesses and jobs that people are depending on."

This is the closest South Carolina has come to such an order, as schools, dine-in restaurants and public beaches already have been ordered closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"We are not ordering people to stay at home but from the very beginning we’ve been recommending it," McMaster said.

The state's two largest cities had enacted similar orders last week, but McMaster, a Republican, had previously shied away from issuing such a mandate for the entire state. Columbia and Charleston had opted not to lift their restrictions even after a Sunday opinion from state Attorney General Alan Wilson's office that only the governor has the power under a state of emergency to make that decision. Greenville, another of the state's largest cities, had planned to take up a similar proposal at a City Council meeting later Tuesday but postponed that meeting in anticipation of McMaster's action.

McMaster said Tuesday that his order superseded any municipal-level action.

In South Carolina, 1,083 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and four additional people died in the past day, bringing the state's total deaths to 22.

The full order can be found here.

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