Businesses to decide on their own how to operate during recent spike in COVID-19 cases in S.C.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Gov. Henry McMaster is doubling down about not closing any more South Carolina business, despite positive COVID-19 cases in the state continuing to rise, and he’s doing so by lifting more restrictions for businesses.
As of Friday, the governor began permitting bowling alleys to reopen across the state and he’s lifting restrictions on the occupancy of customers in retail establishments.
Some business owners and managers said they feel a bit stuck in the middle, as they try to balance staying open while also ensuring they follow the governor’s guidelines.
Seacoast Artists Gallery is enforcing the social distancing guidelines, while also limiting occupancy to 10 people inside of the facility. They also have a sign on the front door requesting people to wear masks inside of the store.
Sandra Anderson is a host at the Seacoast Artists Gallery. She wishes McMaster would mandate customers having to wear masks, so it wouldn’t be on businesses to try and enforce it on their own.
“We would like for it to be a mandate,” Anderson said. “To protect us, the customers and the visitors. Most of us that host are older and are at risk [during the pandemic]. It makes you a little bit nervous to be here.”
Some residents assumed McMaster would enforce additional restrictions after the recent spikes, especially after hearing his top medical expert express grave concerns about the sudden spike in cases Wednesday afternoon.
“I am more concerned about COVID-19 in South Carolina then ever before,” said Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Environmental Control. “For the past two weeks, we’ve seen some of our highest daily numbers since the pandemic begin.”
McMaster, however, said he’s not closing businesses or mandating masks, citing constitutional reasons. He stated if more people would wear masks and at least six feet back, those actions will help stop the current spike in cases.
“Be smart, there’s a lot of stupid floating around out there,” McMaster said.
Fourty-eight hours later, after the governor made that statement, COVID cases in Horry County continue to rise.
And some businesses like Gino’s Real New York Pizza are taking extra safety precautions to keep their employees safe. The company posted a Facebook message,stating they’ll only be doing take-out and delivery services for customers.
It’s not just businesses making changes; so are some churches.
Surfside United Methodist Church had planned to resume in-person church services this Sunday. In light of the spike, however, the church made a tough decision to push back in-person services.
“We surveyed our congregation, asking when they plan to return,” said lead pastor Scarlett Hester. “It was eye opening to us, how many said “not yet” and want to wait until the numbers go down. As we have spread the word about not opening on Sunday, with the exception of possibly two people, we have heard affirmations from people saying, ‘Pastor, it’s a hard thing but it’s the right thing to do.’"
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