COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – As South Carolina’s final coronavirus closures on businesses are lifted, restaurants will have more restrictions to follow.
Gov. Henry McMaster slightly reversed his position on a statewide mask mandate, but masks are only required in restaurants and large venues. The governor announced the new regulations in an executive order Wednesday.
Like many restaurants, it was a quiet spring for Tavern in the Forest in Carolina Forest, but business has picked up in the summer.
“As everything slowly started reopening, we had a lot of support from the community,” said Drew Doss, manager at Tavern in the Forest. “Things are going as great as they can be with everything else going on in the world.”
As a member of the Palmetto Priority program, Tavern in the Forest already follows many of the restrictions Gov. McMaster announced, which are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“The restaurants have asked us for this help,” said Gov. McMaster. “There are some people who have not gotten the message, who need to be reminded, so this is now mandatory.”
All customers and employees must wear face coverings, tables must be six feet apart and restaurants can only have 50% capacity for dining.
“We can completely reverse our fortunes and create safe environments for our business recovery, for our lifestyle recovery and particularly, for students returning to school in a few short weeks,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell.
Mass gathering locations like concert venues, stadiums, racetracks and festivals can reopen, but everyone must also wear masks. Capacity is limited to 50% or 250 people, whichever is smaller. The rule banning the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m. remains in effect for restaurants, bars and all mass gathering venues.
Even as the White House coronavirus task force considers South Carolina a “red zone” for high case numbers, Gov. McMaster says progress is being made.
“We’re learning more about this virus as we go along, but we have a grip on it now,” said Gov. McMaster. “If South Carolina is going to prosper and the people need to be safe, what we are calling for today, and requiring in some instances, is just what the doctor ordered.”
All of these rules start Monday and will be enforced by the state, including the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).