McMaster said the order makes most of the previous requests urging social distancing measures now mandatory. It goes into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the South Carolina governor said in a Monday afternoon press conference.
South Carolinians must not leave their homes unless working, recreating outdoors, seeing family, or obtaining necessary goods or services, McMaster said.
“Call it what you’d like, this is a stay-at-home order,” McMaster said.
The order allows South Carolina residents to leave their homes to care for family or pets, seek medical care, engage in outdoor exercise (keeping six feet of distance between others), attend church, and to obtain supplies.
McMaster said the order does not close any additional businesses, but does make it illegal for any retail store to have more than five customers for every 1,000 square feet.
McMaster has faced increasing pressure to issue a stay-at-home order in the last week as 41 other states in the nation have mandated. Among the nine states left without orders earlier Monday, South Carolina had the second highest COVID-19 cases per capita, behind Utah, and the second highest confirmed deaths per capita, behind Oklahoma.
“It is time (for the stay-at-home order), according to the data,” McMaster said. “Too many people are on the roads and on the waters and in the stores and not complying with our requests for social distancing.”
McMaster said the rate of non-compliance is on the rise and in the meantime, COVID-19 cases are multiplying. He said in some areas, traffic has recently increased 25 percent.
Anyone who violates this new stay-at-home order can face a $100 fine or 30 days in jail. It is a misdemeanor crime.
Dozens of photos posted recently on social media showed large crowds at Lowe’s stores across South Carolina.
McMaster also urged South Carolina churches to hold their Easter services online as the state approaches the peak of the pandemic.
McMaster said he would not criminalize anyone who went to church during this order, nor would he close down gun stores. He said that he doesn’t want to violate anyone’s first or second amendment rights.
On Friday, McMaster issued an order expanding the list of non-essential business closures to include most retail-type stores such as clothing, shoes, accessory, sporting goods, music, boat, home furnishing and furniture stores.
Those stores were ordered to shut down by 5 p.m. Monday, McMaster said.
Hardware stores, firearm retailers, and home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot will remain open — but now with customer limits. Hotels and golf courses are still allowed to be open in South Carolina, even with the new mandate.
On Friday, McMaster also ordered to suspend short-term rentals to persons from coronavirus hotspots identified by the CDC. This bans persons from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from renting at South Carolina hotels, resorts, and any short-term rental property.
Gov. Henry McMaster has issued the following orders, punishable by law enforcement:
- Schools closed through at least April 30 (March 15)
- Restaurants and bars only open for carry-out services (March 17)
- Illegal for groups of 3 or more gathered in a public place (March 21)
- Mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from coronavirus hotspots (March 27)
- Public access to all beaches and waterways closed (March 30)
- Non-essential businesses closed (March 31)
- More non-essential business closures + banning rentals to NY tri-state area (April 3)
Richland County — where the State House is located— is now the epicenter for the pandemic in the Palmetto State with 311 cases.
S.C. now has 2,232 total COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths, officials said Monday. The death toll in South Carolina doubled from 22 deaths on March 31 to 44 deaths on April 5.
At the press conference, McMaster said he has not been tested for COVID-19 as he has not observed any symptoms. As of Monday, 19,152 people tested negative for coronavirus in South Carolina.