Governor orders measured re-opening of SC event venues; more COVID deaths in Horry; area cases climb

SC Gov. Henry McMaster during Wednesday news briefing, with State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. (SCETV image)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A “measured reopening” of movie theaters, concert, sport venues, and all other businesses shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic across South Carolina will begin Monday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster ordered Wednesday.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • SC Governor orders remaining businesses open, with restrictions, effective Monday
  • COVID claims six more lives in Horry
  • Slow case climb in Columbus

SC Governor orders remaining businesses open, with restrictions, effective Monday

     With an emphasis on making previously recommended health and safety guidelines for restaurants and other businesses mandatory, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be allowed open effective Monday.

     His order extends to festivals and sporting events, with a maximum of 250 people allowed to take part unless they apply for, and receive a waiver from the state, McMaster said.

     Indoor businesses will be limited to 50 percent of maximum capacity as allowed by the Fire Marshal, or 250 people, whichever is less, the governor said.

     “These limited restrictions are temporary, they are measured, and they are targeted towards what we know works,” McMaster said. “These measures give South Carolina the best chance to slow the spread of the virus without shutting down the state’s economy – which we cannot and will not do – as many continue to call for.”

     Gov. McMaster repeated his call for all in South Carolina to wear masks in public, to maintain social distancing, and to wash hands frequently, and he encouraged local governments to adopt mask ordinances.

     McMaster said a statewide mask order was not right for South Carolina, and said those efforts should be made “on the ground” in local communities, not mandated from Columbia.

     “We are in a ground war,” McMaster said. “Not an air war.”

     Rules for restaurants, previously recommended by AccelerateSC, will be mandatory effective Monday, the governor said.

     They include:

  • Operating dine-in services at no more than 50% of the certificate of occupancy issued by the fire marshal.
  • Employees and patrons shall be required to wear masks or face coverings.
  • Tables are to be spaced to keep diners at least six feet apart.
  • No more than 8 customers per table unless from the same family.
  • Standing or congregating in bar area of restaurant is prohibited.
  • Establishments that possess a state permit to sell alcohol shall be subject to these restrictions.

     Theater, concert and other venues that had been closed under previous governor’s orders will be allowed to open Monday, with strict guidelines designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, McMaster said.

     Those venues include festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance, halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks, or similarly operated entities.

     Guidelines impacting those venues include:

  • Attendance may not exceed 50 percent of the certificate of occupancy issued by the fire marshal – or 250 persons – whichever is less.
  • Require the wearing of masks or face coverings as a condition of admission or participation
  • Enact social distancing, cleaning and hygiene practices as recommended by AccelerateSC
  • End the sale of alcohol at 11 p.m.

     Those responsible for events that might exceed the 250 person cap “may receive clarification allowing the event to proceed if they can satisfactorily demonstrate an ability to comply with federal and state COVID-19 procedures and protocols to the Department of Commerce,” a governor’s news release said.

     Those guidelines, and more, may be found here.

COVID claims six more lives in Horry

     Six more Horry County lives have been claimed by COVID-19, half described as elderly individuals, half middle aged, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control pandemic reported Wednesday.

     Another 99 Horry residents have tested positive for the coronavirus, the new DHEC data showed. Seven of those were in the Loris area, Zip Code data showed.

     Since the pandemic began 7,777 Horry residents have been confirmed infected with COVID-19, 118 have died, DHEC data showed Wednesday. Confirmed cases in the Loris Zip code total 476, the Green Sea area has recorded 34.

     Statewide South Carolina reported 1,666 new COVID cases and 48 new deaths Wednesday, bringing the pandemic totals to 85,423 and 1,551 respectively.

Slow case climb in Columbus

     Columbus County has recorded another eight new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the second day in a row, daily data from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services shows.

     Zip Code data indicated three of those cases in the Whiteville area, three in Nakina, and one each in Clarendon, Chadbourn, Hallsboro, Lake Waccamaw and Riegelwood, while apparent resident corrections showed one fewer case in Tabor City and Bolton.

     Columbus County’s pandemic total stands at 775 cases with 44 deaths, the DHHS data showed Wednesday. Tabor City’s total is 187 cases and 12 deaths.

     Columbus County Health Department issues coronavirus updates each Monday and Thursday.

     There are timing differences and sometimes conflicts in data from the state and county agencies.

     North Carolina reported 1,763 new COVID infections and 45 new related deaths Wednesday, the pandemic total now 117,850 cases, 1,865 deaths.

     COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen by 47 North Carolina, the total Wednesday  1,291.

Updates

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.