Medical experts advise precautions as McMaster lifts occupancy restriction on restaurants

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — South Carolina governor Henry McMaster Friday announced an executive order that lifts the occupancy limit on restaurants.

The order went into effect immediately. Restaurants may now run at 100 percent capacity, as opposed the 50 percent allowed before due to COVID.

Other rules, though, remain in effect. Businesses must still cut off alcohol sales at 11 p.m., and masks are still required.

Allie Tuthill at Mako’s Oceanfront says the governor needs to do more to rollback restrictions after a tough few months.

“It’s the 11 o’clock alcohol ban that’s the major problem,” Tuthill said. “Like if we could stay open until 2 o’clock like normal, that would change a lot of stuff for us.”

Tuthill said the restriction is particularly challenging during the off-season, when a lot of their business is from other restaurant workers.

“I think it’s completely ridiculous,” Tuthill said. “Because technically we’re allowed to have people sit here until whatever time we want. If they’re eating. They’re just not allowed to have a beer while they eat. And that makes no sense to me.”

SLED reports 285 complaints statewide against businesses with alcohol licenses for governor’s executive orders as of Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, some in healthcare raise concerns on the potential risk of full restaurants.

“Having a restaurant full of people or even close to a capacity of people will be risky, especially for those people that are high risk,” Corporate Director of Infection Prevention at McLeod Health’s Department of Epidemiology Michelle King said.

She added there are precautions people can take, especially if they are at a high risk.

“Some restaurants may have early bird hours,” she said. “Like at 5 o’clock for dinner, which may be safer for some folks. There may be less people there.”

King says there are things to look for for added protection.

“It’s great if they have the doors open because that adds extra airflow into the restaurant. And my favorite is to eat outside at a table,” she said.

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