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Outdoor Dining Not Allowed During McMaster’s Restaurant Shutdown. Here’s the latest

Can COVID-19 spread through food? Your dining questions answered here.

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Yesterday, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order closing dine-in services at restaurants and bars across South Carolina amid the 2019-2020 coronavirus (known officially as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19) outbreak. But what does that mean, exactly?

The South Carolina Department Department of Health and Environmental Services (SCDHEC) has issued several details further explaining statewide food service restrictions.

To encourage social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, McMaster issued an order banning sit-down dining in bars and restaurants. Carry-out, delivery and drive-through services are still allowed. The order went into effect today.

SCDHEC officials said that restaurants/ food establishments are not required to notify DHEC if an employee test positive for coronavirus.

“There is also no requirement for public notification by your facility should you have a report of a positive employee,” the SCDHEC website said. “COVID-19 is a reportable disease, but that requirement is the responsibility of the medical provider or the testing laboratory, not the patient or their employer.”

Here are a few things you need to know that were listed on SCDHEC’s website about the COVID-19 dining restrictions:

  • You can go inside a restaurant to place an order, but DHEC asks that you order via phone.
  • Outdoor seating is also banned.
  • “Retail stores, convenience stores and hotel breakfast service may continue to offer self-service food service such as grab and go, hot dog and pizza or other food pick up; however, any seating areas need to be closed.”
  • DHEC will not be conducting routine inspections amid the COVID 19 outbreak, but will inspect restaurants upon requests to your regional BEHS office.

SCDHEC workers asked that all food establishments “be vigilant by emphasizing employee health, good hygiene and sanitation practices for your employees. 

“Food workers should not work when sick or touch ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.  They should carefully wash their hands with warm water and soap often,” SCHEC said.

DHEC officials and other experts have said there is there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted by food.

However, University of Harvard health experts said the research isn’t clear on whether or not you can get coronavirus by eating food prepared by someone who has it.

“So we currently cannot rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted through food by an infected person who has not thoroughly washed their hands,” Harvard officials said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 2019-nCoV had infected 193,475 people in 164 countries, killing 7,864 of them – according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the virus had infected 7,048 people in all fifty states – killing 116 of them – according to a database maintained by The New York Times.

In South Carolina, there have been 47 cases with one fatality, according to the latest statistics provided by government health officials.

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