Gov. McMaster allows beaches, businesses to reopen, hands decision to local leaders

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he is canceling his order to close public beach accesses and leaving the decision to local governments.

McMaster said he is letting mayors and city council make their own decisions about opening public access to beaches, piers, docks, ramps, etc. Social distancing rules continue: Groups of three people or more are not allowed and will be dispersed.

Immediately following the announcement, the City of Myrtle Beach issued a statement that public beach access and parking will remain closed for now. They will remain closed until one of the following occurs:  the emergency declaration expires, city council directs otherwise or the emergency order is rescinded.  

He also canceled his order to close some retail businesses. These businesses now may reopen as of 5 p.m. Monday: furniture, jewelry, department, clothing and shoes, florists, books, crafts, flea markets, and music stores.

However, the stores must adhere to previous mandates that require an occupancy limit of five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20% of posted occupancy limits, whichever is less.

When pressed about the lack of two consecutive weeks of a downtrend in cases, which is stated in the national guidelines as needed to phase out restrictions, McMaster said those are good guidelines, but “We have seen compliance and common sense in our state. Our restrictions are different than those in other states.”

McMaster said his goal is to cause the most damage possible to the virus with the least possible permanent damage to businesses. “I urge everyone to remember we are still in a very serious situation,” McMaster said.

“We know this disease spreads easily and is deadly, particularly to our older people and people with weaker immune systems. So, we must be sure that we continue to be strict and disciplined with our social distancing and be taking care not to infect others,” the governor said.

Governor Henry McMaster also announced the creation of accelerateSC, a coordinated economic revitalization plan involving small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials, and education professionals.

The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information.

James Burns, a partner at the law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough, will serve as accelerateSC’s executive director. Burns and the rest of the membership are serving in a voluntary capacity. For further information about accelerateSC and its members, visit the governor’s website here.

Gov. McMaster and Lt. Governor Pamela Evette will attend and lead the first meeting of accelerateSC on Thursday of this week.

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