COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - During a meeting Wednesday of leaders discussing how and when to open South Carolina’s economy, restaurant industry experts outlined their plan to reopen.
Gov. Henry McMaster hosted the ‘Response’ committee of accelerateSC to take up issues such as “workforce capacity, workforce re-entry, critical industries, capital requirements, regulatory issues and supply chain/logistics.”
Bobby Williams, chair of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA), recommended restaurants open outdoor dining Monday, May 4.
Indoor dining areas should open during the following two weeks, by May 18, if outdoor dining is successful, Williams said.
He said if a restaurant has the staff and inventory to open inside before May 18 it would be fine, in his opinion, for it to reopen May 11.
The governor mentioned Mother’s Day as a major day for restaurants, and he said he’d like to see restaurants open by then. Williams advised against that, however.
“We’re not proposing Mother’s Day,” he said. "It’s the busiest day of the year in restaurants... I think it could get out of hand.”
Some in the meeting asked how restaurants would handle sanitizing frequently touched items (salt and pepper, menus, ketchup, etc...).
Williams suggested restaurants not have any condiments on the table but rather use single-use packets or store them in the back where they could be sanitized after each use. He also suggested a switch to paper menus.
Social distancing would be enforced with both outdoor and indoor dining, Williams said. Tables would be separated by at least six feet.
Williams said opening outdoor dining first would be a good step to help phase back in some workers and train them in safe practices.
No decision was made at the meeting, and the dates to reopen restaurants is ultimately up to the governor.
Hair salons and barbershops were also represented at the meeting.
No dates were mentioned as to when those types of businesses may open, but the governor said he wanted it to happen “as soon as possible.”
Other hospitality industry businesses were mentioned such as hotels and attractions.
The committee wants to see a list of best practices for situations that may arise as these businesses reopen.
It was clear, however, that many people in the meeting are excited to see these businesses open up soon.
There are five components to accelerateSC: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information. The first full meeting for accelerateSC took place on April 23.
Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott joined the meeting Wednesday. They also took part in a media availability session with McMaster and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette following the meeting.