South Carolina restaurants are able to open for limited dine-in services on Monday

Updated: May. 8, 2020 at 7:10 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Governor Henry McMaster has announced that restaurants throughout South Carolina will be allowed to reopen for limited dine-in services beginning on Monday, May 11.

McMaster has established guidelines for restaurants to follow if and when they choose to open for dine-in services.

Those guidelines include only allowing 50% of posted occupancy inside, tables spaced 6 to 8 feet apart, additional guidance for health checks for all employees, and social distancing. A full list of guidelines can be found here.

The guidelines were established based on advice and recommendations from AccelerateSC, and input from the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

McMaster said it will now be up to each establishment to determine whether they can open.

“This doesn’t mean that everyone has to open” the governor said. “It means that restriction has been lifted. Every restaurant owner or every manager will have to make decisions based on their customers, their clients, their staff, and the safety of those people.”

In addition, McMaster announced that he has lifted all boating restrictions effective immediately. But social distancing is recommended and McMaster urged people to use common sense.

“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.”

The governor said he is likely to address businesses that involve physical contact businesses, like barber shops and gym, on Monday.

“We hope to have a decision made and announced as early as Monday on those [businesses],” he said.

You can watch the full press conference below or click here.

Gov. McMaster holding news briefing on COVID-19

Watch Live: Gov. McMaster holding news briefing on COVID-19

Posted by Live 5 News on Friday, May 8, 2020

On Friday afternoon, health officials announced 238 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 more deaths in South Carolina.

Today’s update brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in the state to 7,367, and those who have died to 320.

Dr. Linda Bell with the Department of Health and Environmental Control spoke during a Friday afternoon press conference and said that the federal government has challenged all states to increase testing.

According to Bell, DHEC has a goal of testing 2% of South Carolina’s population, which is 110,000 South Carolinians per month beginning this month. DHEC officials say they have developed a statewide testing plan to dramatically increase testing.

“The testing expansion will also help us to better understand the overall disease activity within our state, and will allow us to make well informed data driven decisions as we work to establish normalcy,” Bell said.

South Carolina has been at the bottom of rates of testing compared to the population. But health officials said that was because the federal government was sending testing supplies to the hardest hit areas.

The first goal is to test all 40,000 residents and workers in South Carolina’s 169 nursing homes.

Meanwhile, economists who predict how much money South Carolina will have to spend didn’t make massive adjustments to their estimates the state will lose more than $700 million in next year’s budget in large part because of the coronavirus. But they also warned Friday there is still much uncertainty in their predictions as tax payments have been delayed, but reopening the economy is happening faster than expected.

The South Carolina House passed a $10 billion budget in early March before the pandemic began. Economists predict lawmakers will now have about $9.5 billion to spend when they start their budget work late this summer.

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