SC governor allows alcohol sales past 11 PM, lifts COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster will soon lift his “Last Call” executive order that stopped alcohol sales and consumption at bars at 11 p.m. each night.

The order went into effect July 11, 2020. It will lift on Monday, March 1, 2021, the governor’s office confirmed.

McMaster issued the order in an effort to prevent late-night gatherings at bars and restaurants as COVID-19 cases spiked among young people. The order never affected sales at retail stores.

Restaurant and bar owners have been calling on the governor to remove the restriction. The governor had mentioned possibly lifting the order at several recent news conferences, so this was expected.

McMaster also announced Friday he will lift restrictions on large gatherings in the state starting Monday, as well.

Previously, people had to go through the South Carolina Dept. of Commerce to get approval for gatherings of more than 250 people.

Though approval will not be required, the department does urge event organizers to follow these safety guidelines:

  • Limit attendance of large gatherings to either 50% of the event space’s posted occupancy limit or fewer than 250 people
  • All employees, customers, patrons, suppliers, vendors, visitors or other people in attendance at a large gathering should wear a face covering
  • Organizers, operators, owners, or hosts of a large gathering shall take reasonable steps to incorporate, implement, comply with, and adhere to any relevant sanitation, “social distancing,” and hygiene guidelines established by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health officials.

“With the spread of the virus consistently decreasing across the country and more of the most vulnerable South Carolinians being vaccinated every day, I believe these targeted and limited safety measures are no longer necessary,” McMaster said. “The virus is still among us and we all must continue to make responsible decisions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but those decisions are for South Carolinians to make.”

The governor does urge people to keep wearing masks and social distancing.

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