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Governor closes more businesses but declines to order stay-at-home mandate

Molly Hulsey //April 3, 2020//

Governor closes more businesses but declines to order stay-at-home mandate

Molly Hulsey //April 3, 2020//

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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced two executive orders April 3 that added more categories to the list of nonessential businesses and closed short-term rentals to visitors from hot spots” identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The list of additional nonessential stores includes furniture, clothing, music and arts, book, luggage and leather, and sporting goods, as well as florists and department stores. Home improvement stores, hardware stores and firearm merchants will continue to be considered essential. This order will go into effect 5 p.m. Monday, he said.

Starting immediately, hotels, motels, vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs and other rental houses will be closed to visitors from CDC hot spot areas except for first responders, health care providers, commercial transport workers and the military.

Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, announced that South Carolina has 147 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 1,700.

“At some point, many of us will likely be exposed to the virus,” she said.

Despite stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the Southeast, McMaster said South Carolina is unique and that a stay-at-home mandate is not yet necessary. He also reiterated that law enforcement has the authority to disperse crowds as small as three people.

“Despite our deliberate approach, when there is noncompliance with what we asked, then we can begin mandating things and that is why we are having this expansion today,” he said.

When asked to respond to bewilderment expressed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that not all states have enacted a stay-at-home order, McMaster argued that existing orders and stay-at-home suggestions are sufficient and are based on advice from health experts.

“The measures we have taken, both voluntary and mandatory, contemplate staying at home, he said. We are taking a deliberate approach. Our state is not like everyone else’s state. Georgia, for example, has Atlanta, and there are more people in Atlanta than there are in South Carolina.”

McMaster has scheduled another press conference on Monday at 4 p.m.