SC governor allows bowling alleys to reopen as he extends state of emergency

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster issued a press release Friday morning announcing an executive order allowing bowling alleys to reopen immediately.

His order also extends the current state of emergency, while also lifting restrictions on how many people can be inside retail stores and allowing events with more than 50 people to go on as planned at any state properties.

This order comes just days after McMaster and Dr. Linda Bell, of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising in South Carolina.

Wednesday, Bell said she is “more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina than (she has) ever been before.”

The governor and the epidemiologist urged residents to social distance and wear a mask while in public.

McMaster said it is up to individuals to fight the spread of the virus, because he won’t keep the economy closed.

He made it clear he would not change course on reopening businesses, a sentiment that he echoed in his announcement Friday morning.

“South Carolinians know what they can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, and it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to follow the advice and recommendations of the public health experts,” McMaster said. “We also must continue our methodical approach towards getting South Carolinians back to work and businesses contributing to the state’s economy. Businesses simply can’t be closed indefinitely, but they can operate in a safe way with our collective knowledge of the virus.”

McMaster says his task force, accelerateSC, issued the following guidelines for bowling alleys to reopen safely:

  • Bowlers should be spread out on the lanes to ensure that they are 6 feet or more apart. This can be accomplished by either limiting the number of people on one lane at a time and/or having an empty lane in between each active one.
  • Request that customers bring their own bowling balls and shoes, if they have them.
  • Clean and disinfect bowling balls and shoes between users.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (bathroom doors, sink handles, chairs, etc.) routinely throughout the day.
  • Provide hand sanitizer at each lane. Make disinfectant available to customers who want to disinfect their ball and lane.
  • Disable video games, juke boxes, etc. OR clean and disinfect them between each user.

While bowling alleys are now allowed to reopen, some entertainment businesses remain closed. Those include movie theaters, night clubs, and performing arts venues.

In the executive order, the governor also said events and gatherings planned at any property owned by the state can now go on as planned, regardless of the number of people expected to attend.

Gatherings were previously restricted to groups of fewer than 50 people.

As for the restrictions on the capacity of retail stores -- the governor has lifted those completely.

Friday’s executive order also extends the state of emergency due to COVID-19 in South Carolina. The last executive order expired June 11. This new order will last for 15 days.

It’s the seventh consecutive state of emergency McMaster has ordered due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The order allows state officials to “take additional proactive action and implement further extraordinary measures to respond to the evolving public health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic…”

Among its measures, the order gives law enforcement the ability to disband groups of three or more people if they believe the group poses a threat to public health.

It also upholds the suspension of visitation in nursing homes and for inmates at state correctional facilities, prohibits price gouging, and orders that public schools remain closed.

The order also issues protective measures for first responders and suspends rules and regulations for commercial drivers.

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