Gov. McMaster says bars can serve alcohol past 11 p.m., large gatherings no longer require approval

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW/WCBD) – Gov. Henry McMaster on Friday said bars will be allowed to serve alcohol past 11 p.m. each night and large gatherings no longer require approval by the state.

“With the spread of the virus consistently decreasing across the country and more of the most vulnerable South Carolinians being vaccinated every day, I believe these targeted and limited safety measures are no longer necessary,” McMaster said in an announcement. “The virus is still among us and we all must continue to make responsible decisions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but those decisions are for South Carolinians to make.”

In addition to lifting the “Last Call Order,” which is effective on Monday, McMaster is also suspending the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s approval process for large gatherings.

The executive order was implemented in June, prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling alcoholic beverages after 11 p.m. amid the pandemic. It was an effort to prevent large gatherings among young adults in often close spaces.

The South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA) has pressured McMaster to remove the order since December. SCRLA said the industry is suffering due to the mandates.

Establishments who did not comply with the order were subject to losing their license.

“Many of the young people in our state, as well as around the country, seem to not be taking the virus as seriously as they should, and we hope that this will help all of us – particularly the younger generation – to realize just how serious this virus is and what is at stake if we don’t see these infection rates start dropping,” said Gov. McMaster when issuing the order.

McMaster restricted events of more than 250 people by executive order, but event hosts could apply for an exemption. The events were to remain under 50% capacity, adhere to social distancing, require masks, and follow AccelerateSC guidelines.

Those mandatory requirements will become recommendations.

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