South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has issued a new state of emergency Friday, as part of an executive order that also allows the reopening of bowling alleys and lifts restrictions on retail business capacity limits.
Previous limits on retail spaces required no more than five customers every 1,000 square feet, or no more than 20% capacity, whichever was less. That restriction has now been lifted, with no mandated reduced capacity.
The executive order also lifts the previous restriction on gatherings of more than 50 people on public property, since more public employees are returning to work.
This comes during a week when South Carolina has seen a large increase in daily new cases, including Thursday having the single largest daily increase in the state since the pandemic began.
Brian Symmes, the governor's communications director, said the state acknowledges people have not been properly social distancing. Symmes said the governor has forcefully explained to residents that this is a dangerous and deadly virus, and that people need to take precautions.
“That has not changed. The virus is still here. And it’s still being transmitted,” Symmes said.
But Symmes said that McMaster philosophically does not believe that government putting its thumb on the scales and making broad mandates that are largely unenforceable is the answer. The answer, Symmes said, is educating the public, which the governor and Department of Health and Environmental Control have done consistently.
He added that it is in the best interest of the business from a liability standpoint to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.