Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: As of May 8, officials in South Carolina, US, lift restrictions on additional businesses, remove travel restrictions.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Florence, South Carolina
  • Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Spartanburg, South Carolina

This alert began 08 May 2020 10:12 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): South Carolina (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, significant business and transport disruptions

Summary
As of May 8, authorities in South Carolina have lifted restrictions on multiple businesses as part of the state's easing of restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A previous order requiring residents to remain home has been lifted; however, authorities urge residents to stay home and maintain social distancing as much as possible. Gatherings of three or more people remain banned until further notice, and in-person lessons at public schools have been canceled for the remainder of the academic year.

The following businesses and services are allowed to operate while imposing certain limits:

  • Retail stores, including clothing, furniture, book, and sporting goods stores. They must limit the number of customers within their facilities to 20 percent of the maximum capacity, and ensure proper distance and enhanced sanitation.
  • Lodging businesses for all customers. A previous ban on making bookings for travelers from areas of widespread COVID-19 outbreaks has been lifted.
  • Restaurants that offer outdoor dining services must ensure tables are 2.4 meters (8 feet) away from each other, limit tables to eight people, and prohibit any gathering of customers.


Authorities have also allowed access to additional recreational areas, including public beaches, piers, docks, and wharves. Officials have lifted a previous order that required travelers from areas considered to have extensive community transmission of COVID-19 to self-quarantine upon arrival. Essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and those in security, transport, media, critical manufacturing, may continue their operations.

Other nonessential businesses must remain closed to in-person services, but may offer delivery services, and continue to operate with their employees working from home.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the orders on short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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