Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Governor closes restaurant dining rooms statewide

Molly Hulsey //March 17, 2020//

Governor closes restaurant dining rooms statewide

Molly Hulsey //March 17, 2020//

Listen to this article

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster mandated that all restaurants and bars close their dine-in services across the state during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“It is allowed and recommended that take-out and curbside delivery of food to homes, businesses, take-out, all of that will be increased and enhanced wherever possible,” he said. “This decision was made in concert with a number of conversations with a number of people including John Durst, the director of the S.C. restaurant association, and Chairman Bobby Williams.”

The order means dining rooms can’t open Wednesday morning.

McMaster also prohibited public events of 50 or more people at public-owned facilities, extended the state tax deadline to June 1 and required the S.C. National Guard to begin planning with hospitals to build infrastructure and mobile facilities.

“We know this is a dislocation and know that a lot of these things are going to cause problems for businesses, but the enemy the we are going to face, the enemy of this virus, is bigger than any sort of irritation or any sort of inconvenience any of us can have,” McMaster said. “So we are asking people to stick together and understand that we are in a crisis and need to take these measures.”

The announcement came a little more than an hour after Greenville Mayor Knox White made a similar declaration.  White declared a citywide state of emergency that also closes dining rooms but allows carry-out business to continue.

“This is an uncertain time,” White said in a news release. “Many businesses are finding creative ways to keep their employees working and customers healthy. We want to support them. We are adhering to federal guidelines for COVID-19 that include limiting gatherings to less than 10. We understand the strain that can put on local stores and restaurants. We want our citizens to be able to stay home or limit person-to-person contact, but not to the detriment of our business community.”

The city of Greenville also will defer new business license payments for the next 60 days, the release said.

On Monday, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin declared a state of emergency, and on Wednesday, a city-wide curfew went into effect. The state of emergency declaration required city businesses to reduce capacity by 50% and temporarily postponed permits for public and private events. 

The curfew restricts travel and public gatherings from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m., with the exception of those going to work or to seek health care. 

"This was a very difficult decision and not a measure we take lightly," Benjamin said on the city's website. "To get through this current public health crisis and to save lives, it will have to be a collective effort between all of us."

The curfew can be lifted by the issuance of another order or will expire 61 days after its enactment.