South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an emergency order closing all “non-essential” businesses for 15 days, beginning April 1, in an effort to stall the spread of the coronavirus.
McMaster announced the order at a press conference just after 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The announcement came at the same time Greenville City Council was set to hold a special meeting over an ordinance that would implement a 15-day city-wide stay-at-home order. That meeting was postponed so that city council could wait to hear what McMaster would announce.
“There are a lot of things that towns and municipalities can do in that area to try to spread the knowledge about social distancing,” McMaster said in his announcement, specifically addressing Greenville’s ordinance, “and they’re within their limits to make certain ordinances.”
While not technically being a “stay-at-home” order, McMaster stressed that all South Carolinians should stay at home unless absolutely necessary to go out.
What the order means for businesses
Unlike similar orders in other states, which identified the so-called “essential businesses” that would not be forced to close, McMaster’s order instead listed all so-called “non-essential businesses” which must close.
“Some other states have listed all the essential businesses in the state and say these will not be subject to close, but those lists are so long and confusing,” McMaster said, adding that the businesses he has included on the “non-essential” list are those where the virus has a stronger place to grow due to close contact between individuals, while not being as essential as other businesses.
The “non-essential” businesses have been separated into three categories: entertainment venues; athletic facilities and activities; and close contact service providers.
Here’s the full list outlined by McMaster that will be forced to close under the emergency order.
Night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, tourist attractions, racetracks, indoor children’s play areas (not including daycare), adult entertainment venues, bingo halls, and social clubs.
Athletic facilities and activities
All sports requiring interaction with another person closer than six feet, activities requiring shared equipment, activities on commercial of public playground equipment
Close-contact service providers
Barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons, spas, body art facilities, tattoo shops, tanning salons, massage establishments, and massage services
Already a significant portion of South Carolina’s population is working remote or not working at all. Traffic across all interstates have dropped by about two thirds, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Flights at Greenville Spartanburg International Airport have dropped by 90 percent, McMaster noted in his announcement, while all access points to waterways like lakes and beaches have been closed to deter crowds.
“We know the virus is still spreading, still growing,” McMaster said, “and we must do everything we can and be as aggressive as we can, but at the same time not going too far and destroying business and jobs that people are depending on.”
Are you a business owner?
To help alleviate confusion, the state Department of Commerce has created a phone-line and email account where business owners can get clarification on their “essential / non-essential” status.
Businesses should email [email protected], or they should call 803-734-2873. A determination on a business’ status will be made within 24 hours, during which time businesses are allowed to continue with normal operations.