Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in South Carolina, US, reopen beaches, some businesses, starting April 20. Other restrictions in place through April 27.

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 21 Apr 2020 16:21 GMT and is scheduled to expire 27 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order lifting restrictions on public access to beaches and allowing some businesses to operate, starting April 20, as part of the state's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The order stipulates that access to public beaches, public piers, docks, and wharves will be allowed starting 1200 April 21. Local authorities are able to restrict such openings if they believe it is necessary to protect public health in their cities or counties. Residents who access these places must continue to maintain a proper distance from others. Authorities have also lifted restrictions on some retail stores, which will be able to reopen starting 1700 April 20. Among these are furniture, clothing, jewelry, and sporting goods stores, as well as bookstores and florists. These businesses must limit the number of customers who are simultaneously in the stores to 20-percent capacity or no more than five customers per 92 square meters (1,000 square feet) of retail space; businesses must also ensure customers are properly distanced from one another and enhance sanitation within the stores.

Orders requiring residents to stay at home except to perform essential tasks, and other nonessential businesses to remain closed will remain in place until at least April 27. Residents may leave their homes only to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a family member or friend in need, attend a religious service, go to work at an essential business or service, or perform outdoor recreational activities while maintaining a proper distance from other people. Essential businesses and services, including grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, and companies in the food, security, transport, communications, and energy industries, are allowed to continue operating. Lodging businesses cannot accept new bookings or reservations from visitors entering the state from areas more affected by COVID-19 transmission, including, but not limited to, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. These orders are also in place through at least April 27. In-person lessons in public schools will also remain canceled through at least the end of April. Nonessential businesses may offer delivery services, and continue to operate only 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 measures taken by South Carolina authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Governor of South Carolina - Orders Lifting Certain Restrictions: https://governor.sc.gov/

Governor of South Carolina - Order to close Nonessential Businesses: https://governor.sc.gov

Governor of South Carolina - Work or Home Order: https://governor.sc.gov

Governor of South Carolina - State of Emergency Extension: https://governor.sc.gov

South Carolina COVID-19 Updates: www.scdhec.gov