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Governor expected to announce reopening of beaches, retail stores

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 10:35 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster is expected to reopen public beaches and retail stores this week. According to the Post and Courier, this has been confirmed by the governor’s chief of staff, Trey Walker, who says the announcement will come sometime Monday, April 20.

This will mean several businesses deemed non-essential will soon be back open.

This includes, department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music stores. Restrictions on the number of people allowed inside each store will remain in place. There can be no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20% occupancy, whichever is less.

Salons and gyms will remain closed at this time.

Several state lawmakers posting to social media over the weekend after they say they got the heads-up from the governor that beaches and some stores will reopen, beginning Tuesday.

Rep. Stewart Jones tweet
Rep. Stewart Jones tweet(Twitter)

Representative Alan Clemmons says, “It seemed appropriate to the governor, based on not only my input, but input from others from around the state, particularly from coastal counties.”

"I have mixed emotions about it. I think it's important for the mental health and sanity of the locals that we do have some recreational outlets that are safe where we can practice safe, responsible social distancing. Beaches can get crowded, but I think if we all take this responsibly, take this seriously, then I think it can go smooth,” said Senator Stephen Goldfinch.

On the other hand, some lawmakers say it could be too soon to reopen our public beaches. It was at the end of March that the governor issued an executive order closing public access to waterways across the state.

Governor McMaster says the decision to allow public waterway access is ultimately up to local governments.

City leaders with four Lowcountry beaches have decided to keep some restrictions in place, including at the: Isle of Palms, Edisto Beach, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island.

"People should not assume that because one regulation is relaxed, that it means that the threat has passed,” said Sullivan's Island Mayor Patrick O'Neil

Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin says, "We're trying to take this one baby step at a time and as we continue to work together, that’s the best for the whole community, I think. We want for our businesses to make money because the town needs to make money to keep on going, but this is a matter of public health versus making dollars, and now we're trying to just make sure we keep the public healthy and we'll make the dollars when we can."

Governor McMaster tweeting this weekend about what he calls a productive call with several other southeastern governors discussing plans to reopen safely. In that tweet, the governor says, “South Carolina is ready.”

Gov. McMaster tweet
Gov. McMaster tweet(Twitter)

Meanwhile, Representative Mia McLeod responded to the governor’s decision to reopen public beaches and retails stores, tweeting that his decision comes not even two weeks after the statewide stay-at-home order was issued, and that our state faces more than 4,200 cases and about 120 deaths.

Rep. Mia McLeod tweet
Rep. Mia McLeod tweet(Twitter)

The statewide “Home or Work” order is still in place, as is the ban on dining inside restaurants.

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