South Carolina Gov. McMaster extends state of emergency
Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday extended South Carolina's state of emergency order to mid-May.
The extension allows McMaster to continue issuing executive orders as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic. McMaster has begun to ease orders on some businesses and outdoor recreation while keeping others — including a stay-at-home order — in effect.
“South Carolina continues to fight this deadly virus with every asset and resource available,” said McMaster. “While we are making progress, we must remain vigilant with expanding prevention and testing efforts. Our state is also facing an economic disruption and emergency the likes of which we’ve never seen, and we are working tirelessly to get our businesses back up and running and our people back to work as soon and as safely as possible.”
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South Carolina's state of emergency began March 13 and has been renewed every 15 days. This state of emergency is set to expire May 12.
Business owners around the state are now looking ahead to another two weeks of restrictions.
One of them is restaurant owner Jim Oswald, who anticipates his 45-seat dining room being closed for at least two more weeks, maybe more.
“I think the governor is doing the right thing, in terms of extending it. I think he's probably going to need to extend it a little further than that,” Oswald, who’s owned and operated Palmetto Smokehouse and Oyster Bar in downtown Clemson for the past six years.
But the longer his dining room is closed, means more time until Oswald and his staff can return to normal.
“From our perspective, it just delays the … healing from this thing and getting our employees back in place,” he said.
Businesses in downtown Clemson have been hit hard by effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which also forced the nearby university to partially close its campus and cancel events.
Chris Fuller closed his two downtown restaurants -- Loose Change Bar and Restaurant and Evolve Kitchen and Table -- after the pandemic closed campus and his dining rooms, but he sees the emergency order extension as a hard but necessary choice.
“I think it's the right thing to do. I hate to say it,” Fuller said.
Fuller said he wasn’t anticipating the restrictions on restaurants and large gatherings to be lifted Monday, or any time soon.
“As much as I would like things to be normal, I honestly think it's for the better of everybody. I think Georgia kind of jumped the gun,” he said.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp reopened restaurants last week, drawing criticism from health experts and President Donald Trump.
A group formed by the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association will offer guidance for restaurants as the governor lifts restrictions and the state reopens. Their plan was submitted to Gov. Henry McMaster and the AccelerateSC committee as official recommendations, John Durst, SCRLA president, said.
“Our mission in recovery … is to make things safe, welcome and relaxed,” Durst said.
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