On Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered all South Carolina bars and restaurants to close their dining rooms starting on Wed. March 18, urging them to shift to take-out service as cases of the coronavirus continue to add up across the state.
McMaster's announcement on Tuesday carries some weight compared to local orders in Charleston that merely urged local restaurants to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.
[content-1] "Restaurants must close their dine-in service starting tomorrow — that is, tomorrow morning," McMaster said at a 4 p.m. briefing Tuesday. The governor said "increased and enhanced" delivery and take-out options were recommended as an alternative.
By late Tuesday, dozens of Charleston-area restaurants had already shifted service to take-out and delivery, with many restaurants signing up for Postmates and UberEats for the first time.
"We know a lot of these things are going to cause problems for businesses, but the enemy we face, the enemy of this virus, is bigger than any sort of irritation or inconvenience that any of us could have."
[content-2] State Department of Health and Environmental Control said that 14 additional cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in South Carolina on Tuesday. On Monday, the state reported the first death of someone who had previously been diagnosed with the resulting COVID-19 disease. The number of cases is expected to increase.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that the coronavirus is spreading easily from person to person, and it may not be easy to know how or when someone contracted the virus. To prevent the spread, DHEC advises people to wash their hands, cover their cough, stay home if you are sick, and dispose of tissues appropriately. CDC also advises people to put distance between yourself and others and avoid large gatherings. There is no vaccine.
McMaster's executive order closes restaurants and bars until March 31.
"We're asking people to stick together and understand we are in a crisis that we need to take these measure," McMaster said.
State tax deadlines were also extended to June, a request that restaurant owners were making on Tuesday as they faced a Friday filing of some February taxes.