Facing increasing pressure from business leaders, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order Monday to reopen some non-essential businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, McMaster said “close contact service providers” such as salons barber shops, tanning salons and spas, as well as “recreational and athletic facilities/ activities” such as gyms, workout centers, pools, and group classes can reopen on Monday, May 18, 2020. They are encouraged to follow certain social distancing guidelines.
According to the governor’s press release, these guidelines “include, but are not limited to” the following:
- Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
- Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
- Additional guidance on health checks for employees
- Additional guidance on training for employees.
The state has specific guidelines for cosmetology establishments, gyms and fitness centers, and public or commercial pools.
Those non-essential businesses have been closed since March 31, 2020 per McMaster’s previous order.
McMaster also announced a three-phase re-entry plan for state employees to get back to work.
“During this phase, agencies are to return employees to the workplace who cannot readily continue to work-from-home and are necessary to support ongoing critical government operations,” according to the online document.
McMaster said the first phase will start sometime before June 1 and those identified employees would be back to work by then.
Phase one also includes public health training. State employees returning to work are encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing. During phase one, guidelines strongly encourage limitations on face-to-face contact with the public.
Phase two will begin less than two weeks after the implementation of phase one.
“During Phase 2, agencies should resume normal operations to the extent
possible while adhering to social distancing recommendations,” the guidelines said. “Agencies will be expected to stagger employees’ return to workplace schedules to promote social distancing and work-from-home is still encouraged to limit disease transmission.”
Phase three will commence less than two weeks after the start of phase two.
“During this phase, agencies will return to normal operations,” the guidelines said.
Earlier this month, McMaster issued an executive order lifting his previously imposed “home or work” mandate and allowing restaurants to reopen outdoor dining services starting May 4. On Friday, he issued an order that allowed restaurants to open indoor dining at fifty percent capacity.
McMaster also removed McMaster also removed previous orders on short-term rentals that had banned people from COVID-19 hotspots (mostly the New York tri-state area). Visitors from those areas no longer have to self- quarantine for the next two weeks.
As of Sunday, South Carolina had more than 7,653 COVID-19 cases and 331 deaths according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). The state has tested nearly 84,457 people for COVID-19 in total.
State health officials are projecting 9,952 total COVID-19 cases by May 23.
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