SC Legislative Update

July 29, 2020

By Ben Homeyer

Governor McMaster is just wrapping up a press conference where he is making some changes to state laws.  They are making violation of any exec order enforceable by local law enforcement (not just state law enforcement officers) and they can charge offenders with a misdemeanor.  Cases continue to be on average above a thousand a day and they are looking at ways to keep the state open for business but citizens safer.  Dr. Bell the state epidemiologist spoke in support of all mask measurers and is encouraging all businesses in the state to have their own mask requirements.

With Regards to restaurants: McMaster today announced that all previously recommended guidelines for restaurants (from Acceleratesc) and other establishments that attract groups of people are now mandatory. The governor’s Executive Order establishing these new measures will go into effect Monday, August 3.

Additionally, the governor continued his call for all South Carolinians to wear face coverings when appropriate, and he encouraged local governments to adopt face covering ordinances. The governor also ordered that face coverings must be worn in all state government buildings according to guidelines and procedures developed by the state Department of Administration, effective August 5th.

These guidelines for restaurants, first established by AccelerateSC, have been strongly recommended until now. They are now mandatory and include the following:

  • 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.

As part of the executive order the Governor is also urging all cities and counties in the state to issue their own mask ordinance.  He still feels the state can not do so but wants every local government to have a mask mandate.  He is mandating that masks are required in all state government buildings.  It is unclear if this includes public education buildings such as K-12 schools and public colleges.

Other types of businesses, facilities, venues, events or mass gatherings which are permitted to open but are required to implement AccelerateSC guidelines include the following: festivals, parades, concerts, theaters, stadiums, arenas, coliseums, auditoriums, grandstands, amphitheaters, gymnasiums, concert halls, dance, halls, performing arts centers, parks, racetracks, or similarly operated entities. These guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Attendance may not exceed 50% 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 11:00 PM

Businesses, event organizers, and others responsible for events that may exceed the occupancy rules 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.

Those guidelines, and more, can be found here.

With the above changes, all businesses will be allowed to be open in SC (but with guidelines and restrictions).