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Governor orders nonessential businesses to close statewide

Molly Hulsey //April 1, 2020//

Governor orders nonessential businesses to close statewide

Molly Hulsey //April 1, 2020//

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S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all “nonessential” businesses to close statewide starting today.

McMaster gave the order during a 4 p.m. press conference Tuesday.

“We must do everything we can to stop the spread, be as aggressive as we can be using the facts, science, data and the knowledge and recommendations of the experts in the field, but at the same time, not going too far and destroying businesses and jobs that people are depending on,” he said.

McMaster said nonessential businesses include nightclubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, tourist attractions, racetracks, indoor children’s play areas except daycares, bingo halls, social club venues and adult entertainment establishments. Also included are recreational venues that cause people to be closer than six feet or share equipment, as well as close-contact service providers such as barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salon, spas, body art facilities, and massage services.

“A lot these businesses are not open,” said McMaster, adding that many of these businesses have “taken it upon themselves” to close due concerns about spreading the new coronavirus and a steep drop in customers.

When asked whether he was urging citizens to stay home, McMaster said, “We’ve been saying that since the very beginning.” He clarified that he is not ordering but suggesting people shelter in place.

He said that it is likely that he will issue another state of emergency order when the current order expires April 12 but did not say if more businesses will be closed at that point. He reiterated the decision will be informed by evolving data.

At this point, restaurants will not be forced to shutter their take-out and delivery services, and Dr. Linda Bell, Department of Environmental Health and Control’s state epidemiologist, said she did not think that would happen soon.

“We’re still focusing on the maximum benefit with the minimum disruption,” she said, adding that DHEC is targeting non-essential businesses where ongoing face-to-face contact is more likely.

Bell announced 158 additional cases of COVID-19 across the state.