COLOMBIA, SC – The governor of South Carolina will end the state’s order to stay home because of the coronavirus next week and will allow restaurants to serve people at outdoor tables, provided strict strict distancing rules are followed.
Governor Henry McMaster’s announcement on Friday came on the same day that state parks were reopened along with a series of hotels along the coast and beaches that had been closed for more than a month.
McMaster promised to continue listening to health officials while deciding what to reopen. Meals are still closed in restaurants and close contact companies, such as beauty salons.
But even with so much reopening, health experts are warning people to continue to follow social distance. Large groups and parties are still banned, playgrounds and park picnic shelters are closed and hotels at the state’s most popular beach destination – Myrtle Beach – cannot start accepting new reservations until May 15.
McMaster said Monday would mark the end of the order, which allowed a $ 100 fine for anyone outside the home for a reason other than work, visiting family, exercising alone or going to an essential business like a supermarket.
The state will also allow outdoor dining to resume on Monday, as long as the restaurants maintain 2.5 meters of space between tables, set a limit of eight people per table, and clean chairs, tables and seats after each customer. . Restaurants must also keep the tents used for outdoor seating open.
Friday’s step of reopening the outdoor area and allowing visitors to stay on the beach is critical in a state where tourism generates nearly $ 2 billion in taxes every year. With the state preparing for a projected 50% drop in the number of visitors, the reopening of the external area is critical.
“We need to make it OK for people to travel again, for people to buy again for people to do those things that bring our economy back,” said state director for Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Duane Parrish.
South Carolina is starting a marketing campaign. The first slogan to go into rotation on Friday is “dream now, find out later”. This will be followed next month by “when you’re ready, we’ll be ready,” said state tourism officials.
But for coastal cities, there are still many concerns. Myrtle Beach City Council reluctantly agreed to invite visitors back because state law prevented them from keeping hotels closed after May 1.
The council approved additional rules for hotels on Thursday. They can only honor bookings made until May 15, when they can start accepting new bookings.
Hotel staff should clean all surfaces touched frequently, such as stair railings or door handles every hour. Only one person or a family – with everyone wearing masks – can be on the guest elevators, which can be quite unpleasant at 15- or 20-story resorts spread across the area.
“We know that, with warm weather and that beautiful and pleasant ocean here, people will come, whether we like it or not. So we have to protect these people and our residents, ”said Mike Chestnut, a member of the Myrtle Beach Council.
But the other things that draw people to the beach, like go-kart tracks and amusement parks, remain closed for now.
South Carolina recorded nearly 6,100 COVID-19 cases and 244 deaths, according to Thursday’s update from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
For most people, the coronavirus behind the pandemic causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, or even death.
Also on Friday, state parks reopened with an extravagant video after being closed for more than a month. Shelters and museums on site remain closed.
South Carolina Supreme Court President Don Beatty extended the ban on foreclosures and evictions on Thursday until May 15.