Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory “stay home or work” order today and laid out stricter social distancing requirements for businesses, saying the measures are necessary because of mounting COVID-19 cases and continued noncompliance.
“The rate of infection is on the rise and the rate of noncompliance is on the rise,” McMaster said during the 4 p.m. news conference. “We hope that this order today will reduce the rising rate of infection and also reduce the rate of noncompliance and also reduce the number of people who are losing their jobs because of these necessary orders.”
Starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, South Carolinians will be permitted on the road to commute to work at “essential” businesses, visit family, obtain essential goods or services, attend religious services and recreate alone or with family outside. The order (.pdf) authorizes all state law enforcement to “do whatever may be deemed necessary to maintain peace and good order during the state of emergency.”
Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and, if convicted, could be fined up to $100 or imprisoned for up to 30 days.
McMaster also urged houses of worship to stream services online, meet outside, or enact social distancing measures if the first two options are not feasible.
Operating retailers must limit the number of customers entering a store to five customers every 1,000 square feet, or 20% of the posted capacity, whichever number is smaller.
McMaster added that no more businesses will be added to the “nonessentials” list after Friday’s additions, which were effective at 5 p.m. Monday. He ordered the S.C. General Assembly to return to work Wednesday.
“It is now time to make these recommended actions required,” he said. “Why is it time? Because too many people — from the statistics, from the facts, from the observations — too many people are on the roads, too many people are on the waters, too many people are in the stores, too many people are not complying with our requests concerning social distancing. We’ve asked, we’ve urged, we’ve suggested.”
During the news conference, Dr. Linda Bell, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s epidemiologist, said state health care systems reported 51% hospital bed capacity with more than 2,232 positive cases of COVID-19, according to the most recent reports. About 10% of South Carolina’s COVID-19 cases return with positive test results, she said.
These results parallel Prisma Health’s reported 9% positive results for tested COVID-19 cases in the Upstate shared by Dr. Eric Ossmann, vice chairman of emergency medicine, at a Greenville City Council meeting last week.