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Greenville votes on stay-at-home ordinance at special meeting (Update: Meeting canceled)

Staff Report //March 31, 2020//

Greenville votes on stay-at-home ordinance at special meeting (Update: Meeting canceled)

Staff Report //March 31, 2020//

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Editor's note: The Greenville City Council canceled this meeting shortly before it was scheduled to start.

Greenville City Council will vote on an emergency stay-at-home ordinance today that fines individuals who are not providing an “essential service” for congregating in public areas.

The vote will be cast during a special livestreamed meeting at 4 p.m. and follows last week’s reconsideration of the ordinance after Alan Wilson, South Carolina’s Attorney General, warned the city that unauthorized emergency actions (PDF) could put them in a legal bind with the state.

People congregating in or traveling to "non-essential" businesses will face a minimum $100 fine if ordinance is passed (Photo/File).“We reaffirm that local government cannot exercise the emergency powers delegated to the governor by the General Assembly,” Wilson said in the letter.

Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to issue a statewide stay-at-home order despite reissuing a state of emergency order until April 12, so Greenville City Council members are considering taking the matter into their own hands.

If passed, starting Thursday at 12:01 a.m., the city will prohibit groups from congregating in or traveling to “non-essential” businesses. The ordinance also would enforce social distancing of at least six feet for “essential service providers,” according to the ordinance (PDF). Violators of the ordinance are subject to a minimum $100 fine.

“It is imperative that residents and non-residents of this great city shelter at home, unless providing or requiring an essential service, remain at a safe distance of at least six feet from others while in public, seek non-emergent medical attention, if sick, via a telehealth service providers, continue to be vigilant with hand-washing, remain calm and only purchase necessary supplies for immediate use,” the ordinance said.

Healthcare providers, infrastructure operators, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, garbage and recycling services, news media, banks and real estate brokers are among the essential service providers listed in the ordinance.

Manufacturers of medical supplies, foods and beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, sanitizing products, telecommunications and conductors, household paper and agricultural goods, aircraft and vehicles, as well as their suppliers’ printing and copying services are also deemed essential. Construction workers for certain infrastructural sites or projects where social distancing is possible are also listed as essential service providers, as are restaurants and bars with take-out and delivery options.

Outdoor recreation areas can also remain open if they allow for appropriate social distancing and contact-free use, while individuals exercising alone will not be required to stay home.