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All South Carolina restaurants can reopen for in-store dining Monday

All restaurants in the state can reopen for in-store dining on Monday with some restrictions.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is going to allow all restaurants in the state to reopen for in-store dining on Monday, although there will be some strong restrictions. 

McMaster made the announcement Friday afternoon during a news briefing. He said he would address "close contact" businesses such as barbershops, salons, and gyms on Monday.

“As we gradually and methodically lift restrictions aimed at combating the coronavirus, it is incumbent upon South Carolinians to follow to the guidance and recommendations provided by our public health experts to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “This virus still presents a serious threat to South Carolinians, but I have faith in the people of our state and their ability to act responsibly and in the best interest of the communities they live in.” 

However, McMaster said this does not mean every restaurant has to open. He said each business can decide if they feel comfortable opening then based on what they're experiencing. 

Based on advice and recommendations from the “Response” component of accelerateSC, which includes input from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (SCRLA), Governor McMaster has established guidelines for restaurants to follow if and when they choose to open for dine-in services. Those guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Only allow 50% of posted occupancy inside, as determined by fire marshals
  • Tables should be spaced 6-8 feet apart
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Additional guidance for health checks for all employees
  • Social distancing guidance for employees and customers, including recommended

McMaster said he had seen media reports of crowds at some restaurants that were open for outdoor dining and said that many people had a negative reaction to that. He also said local law enforcement can take action if social distancing isn't been implemented.

Dr. Linda Bell, the state's infectious disease expert, said it was imperative that people still follow the rules about sanitation and social distancing; if not, the disease spread could increase. 

A full list of regulations can be found here.

McMaster is also lifting all remaining boating regulations. 

Gov. McMaster created a task force, accelerateSC, to help reopen the state quickly and safely. 

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The group was formed by McMaster to discuss various aspects of reopening South Carolina. The group first met nearly two weeks ago, but held breakout group meetings of their subgroups last week. The groups are response, protection, governance, resources, and information.

McMaster has already gone a way toward reopening the state. On April 20, he reopened all retail stores, albeit with social distancing restrictions, and allowed beaches to reopen as well.

On Monday, May 4, McMaster lifted the state's mandatory home or work order with had been in place for nearly a month, changing it to voluntary. He also allowed outdoor dining at restaurants to resume that same day. 

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He's also stopped the restrictions on travel and short-term rentals for people coming from so-called "virus hotspots" in other parts of the state. 

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced Friday 238 new cases of the coronavirus statewide and 4 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 7,367 and those who have died to 320.