COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the next 15 days, all South Carolinians are required to stay at home unless they are going to work, visiting family, picking up essential goods or services or exercising outdoors.
The order took effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The order does not close any additional businesses, but it does add new restrictions for retail businesses that are still open. No more than five customers are allowed per every 1,000 square feet or 20% capacity of the store, whichever is less.
Some state and local lawmakers have been urging the governor for the past several days to make social distancing and staying at home mandatory. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the governor’s order creates clear guidelines everyone must follow.
“This certainly does give everyone clarity and normalizes it. I know there are some businesses that were certainly not abiding by our new social distancing norms, so this helps put everyone on the same page,” Benjamin explained.
Law enforcement officials across the state are responsible for making sure people follow the order and those who don’t could face a misdemeanor, resulting in 30 days in jail and/or a $100 fine for each day of violation.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said most people and businesses have been following the guidelines and he doesn’t expect that to change. He said his department will enforce the order, but will not be conducting road checks.
“If we stop every car on the road and ask where you’re going, then they can say anything and fall within that exception. So, we’re looking for people that are being in groups, businesses staying open that shouldn't be, things that are just blatant," Sheriff Lott said.
Sheriff Lott said if someone calls to report a non-essential business that’s still open, an officer will check on the situation and asks the business to close.
"People are policing themselves. They’re calling on the individuals who are not doing the right thing or businesses not doing the right thing. Someone’s going to call on them and we encourage people to do that," said Lott.
The order does not impact outdoor recreation, but it does limit where you can access public waterways. Public ramps and docks are closed, but private ramps and accesses are not affected.
Wildlife management areas across the state are also still open.
The governor’s “home or work” order will be in effect for 15 days, but it could be extended if the General Assembly votes for it to last longer or if Gov. Henry McMaster issues another order to extend it.