McMaster urges strengthening of local face mask ordinances, allows entertainment venues to open under conditions

Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Wednesday, Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order that is aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in South Carolina.

Gov. Henry McMaster is joined by state health officials to discuss the state's COVID-19 response. >>> Get the earliest breaking news alerts on your phone with the WIS 10 News app >>

Posted by WIS TV on Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The governor also called on counties and municipalities to strengthen current face mask ordinances. This strengthening of the face mask ordinances will go into effect on Monday, August 3.

“We are hoping for the best, but we need to prepare for the worst, and the way to prepare for the worst is to have local leadership involved in stopping the spread of this virus,” said McMaster.

McMaster is also requiring employees and those who enter government offices to wear a mask while inside the building.

Under the new executive order, restaurants are now required to follow the guidelines issued by accelerateSC. That means employees and customers will be required to wear masks and tables will have to be six feet apart. There should also be no more than eight customers per table. The order also prohibits standing or congregating in bar areas of restaurants.

Dine-in services at restaurants will also be limited to 50% occupancy.

McMaster noted that the state restaurant guidelines are enforceable by state government through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Revenue, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In Wednesday’s executive order, McMaster also announced entertainment-like venues such as stadiums, festivals, movie theaters, parades, concerts, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dancehalls, performing arts centers and racetracks can reopen for business on August 3.

However, these businesses must operate at 50% or less capacity or cannot have crowds of more than 250 people. Social distancing must be practiced. Cleaning and hygiene practices must be enacted as recommended by accelerateSC.

Alcohol sales at these venues must also end at 11 p.m.

“It’s been a number of months, those closures I think took place in April. Those businesses, the last ones that we are lifting those restrictions from have been closed for a long time,” added McMaster. “We know more about the virus now than we did then.”

McMaster noted that exceptions to the rules issued in the executive order may be granted by the South Carolina Department of Commerce “only upon a thorough and satisfactory demonstration of an ability to comply and operate according to federal and state coronavirus procedures and protocols.”

“We know that if we follow these rules that people will be safe and we can have our businesses opening as well,” the governor said.

These restrictions, however, do not apply to the following:

  • the conduct of official business or meetings of state, county, municipal, or local governments
  • college and universities
  • K-12 schools
  • any political subdivision of the state
  • local or statewide elections, voter registrations, or absentee voting

McMaster also gave all state, county, and local officials the power to enforce these provisions, along with any other provisions from past or future executive orders during this state of emergency.

The penalty, according to McMaster, for violating these provisions is a misdemeanor and violators will be fined up to $100 and/or imprisoned up to 30 days upon conviction.

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