South Carolina takes giant leap back toward ‘new normal’

South Carolina took a giant leap back toward the “new normal” late Friday afternoon as Gov. Henry McMaster announced that the statewide “Work-or-Home” order to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be lifted on Monday, May 4.

Also starting Monday, restaurants throughout the Palmetto State may offer their customers outdoor dining service in addition to continuing take-out, curbside and delivery service. 

“Our goal from the onset of this deadly pandemic has been to protect South Carolinians, but as we all know, the state’s economic health is a major component of the state’s public health,” Gov. McMaster said. “South Carolinians, now more than ever, should be vigilant in protecting themselves, their loved ones, and their communities by practicing social distancing and continuing to follow the advice and recommendations from our public health experts.”

Joined by state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell at the South Carolina Emergency Management Center in West Columbia, the Governor strongly urged anyone considered to be “at-risk” based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to limit exposure to others. However, limiting travel to between home and work now will be voluntary under the lifting of the “Go Home, Stay Home” restrictions. Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact a healthcare provider immediately and self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

Gov. McMaster also lifted his previous Executive Order 2020-14, that had required individuals entering the state from COVID-19 “hotspots” to self-quarantine for two weeks.

“This virus will continue to spread and still presents a very real and serious threat to our people, but I believe in South Carolinians and their ability to act wisely and safely,” Gov. McMaster said. “We are a strong, resilient, and compassionate people who care for one another and will act in the best interest of our state as a whole.”

In consultation with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the the S.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association, the following guidelines have been created for restaurants if they choose to offer seating for outdoor dining:

  • Tables are to be spaced a minimum of 8 feet apart (measured from all edges of the table);
  • Table groups must be limited to 8 individuals;
  • Gatherings in the building must be eliminated when entering or exiting outdoor seating area;
  • Strict social/physical distancing guidelines must be maintained; and
  • Tables, chairs, and seats should be sanitized after every customer.

If a restaurant chooses to use temporary seating in open areas and/or temporary tents, all sides of the tent must be open and the following conditions are required:

  • Tables are to be spaced a minimum of 8 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table);
  • Table groups are to be limited to 8 individuals;
  • State approved fire extinguisher must be within 75 feet of tent area; and
  • Tents must offer a minimum of 7-foot, 6 inch ceiling height.