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Order closing ‘non-essential’ S.C. businesses takes effect at 5 p.m.

Gov. McMaster announced the order, his latest in a stair-step escalation of measures aimed at...
Gov. McMaster announced the order, his latest in a stair-step escalation of measures aimed at quelling the new coronavirus outbreak, during a Tuesday afternoon news briefing in West Columbia.(Pexels)
Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 1:28 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Gov. Henry McMaster announced an order Tuesday to force the closure of non-essential businesses in South Carolina, his latest in a stair-step escalation of measures aimed at quelling the new coronavirus outbreak.

That order takes effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday and applies to thousands of businesses across the state.

McMaster referred reporters to the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s website, which provided the following list of “non-essential” businesses:

  • Entertainment venues and facilities as follows:
  • Recreational and athletic facilities and activities as follows:
  • Close-contact service providers as follows:

McMaster said any businesses with questions about whether they qualify as essential should complete an Essential Business Clarification form located on the South Carolina Department of Commerce website, or send the questions to covid19sc@sccommerce.com. Business representatives can also call 803-734-2873. A team from South Carolina Department of Commerce will review the business’s request for clarification, and the business will receive a response with their determination, essential or non-essential, within 24 hours, the governor’s office website states.

If a business is not explicitly addressed in the governor's executive order, the business should continue normal operations until a determination is made.

Grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as large-scale retailers like Walmart, gas stations and banks are deemed essential and are not subject to the closure.

News of McMaster’s order came as state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell reported South Carolina had crossed the 1,000-mark in COVID-19 cases.

Bell said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control was investigating 158 new cases as four more deaths related to the virus.

The state's totals, as of Tuesday afternoon, stand at 1,083 cases across 42 of the state's 46 counties; and 22 deaths.

The county with most new cases reported Tuesday wass Charleston County with 19 followed by Beaufort County with 17. But Richland County has the most positive cases with 148 followed by Charleston County with 142.

State health officials also announced four more COVID-19 related deaths which brings the state’s total number of deaths to 22.

Of the four new deaths reported, three patients were elderly people with underlying health conditions, and the fourth was middle-aged with no underlying health conditions.

They were residents of Aiken, Calhoun, Marion, and York counties.



At a national news conference late Tuesday, President Donald Trump urged Americans to heed his administration's guidelines for responding to the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “a matter of life and death.” The president's warning on Tuesday came with new projections that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. even if social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Public health officials stressed that the number could be less if people bear down on keeping their distance from one another.

The coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, says officials believe the nation can do much better than the grim forecast if everyone takes seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.