Gov. Henry McMaster orders restaurants to stop dine-in services beginning Wednesday

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 10:54 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Governor Henry McMaster has ordered all restaurants in South Carolina to stop dine-in services beginning Wednesday.

All restaurants, bars and cafeterias statewide must stop all dine-in activity beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, according to officials with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

“Eateries should continue to provide delivery and take-out options,” state officials said.

McMaster gave the order during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

According to McMaster, the decision was made after conversations with people including the director of the South Carolina Restaurant Association.

“We know a lot of these things are going to cause problems for businesses, but the enemy we face is this virus which is bigger than any sort of irritation or inconvenience that any of us could have," McMaster said.” So we’re asking people to stick together and understand that we’re in a crisis, and we need to take these measures."

He also prohibited organized events of 50 or more people held in the state.

The governor also made a number of requests including asking private employers to allow employees to work from home unless 100% essential.

McMaster also requested that medical and surgical centers halt all elective and non-threatening surgical and medical procedures within the next 72 hours.

“That will allow for medicines, equipment, space, things like masks and all those sort of equipment and personnel to be used by the hospitals to treat those who come into the hospital with this virus, so they’ll have room and capacity,” McMaster said.

The governor also requested that South Carolina insurance companies pay 100% of the costs associated with a coronavirus doctor’s visit.

According to McMaster, that would mean no payment will be required for things like x-ray tests and other procedures in connection with testing and determining the presence of COVID-19 in a patient.

McMaster also asked stores like Costco, Walmart and Target to limit purchases on items that include paper products, disinfectants and water.

“We don’t need to hoard all of those supplies,” McMaster said."Let your neighbors have access to them as well."

‘We know these measures are going to be inconvenient for people but it is better to be safe than sorry," McMaster said."And that’s our plan and we will continue with that."

Gov. Henry McMaster holding press conference on coronavirus

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During Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, state health officials announced that they were investigating 14 additional cases of coronavirus in the state.

This brings the total number statewide to 47 cases in 13 counties.

County location of new cases

  • 1 new case from Beaufort County
  • 2 new cases from Charleston County
  • 1 new case from Calhoun County
  • 5 new cases from Kershaw County
  • 1 new case from Lexington County
  • 1 new case from Richland County
  • 1 new case from York County
  • 1 new case from Greenville County
  • 1 new case from Horry County

“Sadly, this includes our state’s first reported death of a patient,” said Dr. Linda Bell with DHEC.

That patient was an elderly person from Lexington County and a resident of Lexington Medical Center, according to state health officials.

Bell said the patient had underlying health issues before testing positive for COVID-19

Because of those related issues, Bell said that they don’t know the exact cause of death.

“While we have been expecting a day in which we would have to make this announcement, it’s never easy to have to report on the death of a fellow member of our community,” Bell said." On behalf of all South Carolinians, we want to express our deepest sympathy for the family and loved ones that this patient."

State health officials said the patient’s loss is a reminder of the importance of taking precautions to protect those at higher risk like the elderly and people with serious underlying health conditions.

“Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of disease, and protecting the public’s health,” Bell said.

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