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What you need to know about SC's coronavirus stay-at-home order

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A pedestrian crosses an empty Market Street in downtown Charleston after coronavirus outbreak measures were announced. Matthew Fortner/Staff

South Carolina finally has a stay-at-home order as the state's coronavirus cases has doubled in less than a week.

The order issued by Gov. Henry McMaster does not prevent people from going to work or driving to buy groceries, but violators who fail in efforts to curb the spread of the infection face a fine and jail time for unnecessary activity and travel.

South Carolina was the last state east of the Mississippi River to issue a stay-at-home order after McMaster held off because of legal concerns over telling people they could not travel and not wanting to hurt the economy.

But large gatherings at parks and stores over the weekend, despite the governor's pleas for people to behave responsibly, led to the order, along with warnings from state health officials about a spike in cases.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control estimates that nearly 14,500 South Carolinians have COVID-19 but have not been diagnosed. That is six times the number of reported cases.

The number of South Carolinians identified with coronavirus passed 2,400 on Tuesday, doubling since last week. More than 50 people have died from the outbreak.

Here is what South Carolinians need to know about the stay-at-home order:

When does the order start and how long does it last?

  • Starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday
  • Lasts during the state of emergency, which has no set end at this point.

What can I do?

  • Go to work
  • Visit relatives
  • Buy food (including picking up takeout)
  • Purchase medicine and other household supplies 
  • Seek medical help
  • Care for pets
  • Exercise or participate in recreational activity, such as fishing or hiking
  • Attend religious services in houses of worship
  • Travel to court hearings
  • Transport "essential" goods and products (food, water, medicine, medical supplies, fuel, livestock and crops)

Can I go to Easter services this Sunday?

Yes, if your church is open.

McMaster encouraged churches to video-stream Easter worship, but if they must hold live services, he asked they hold them outdoors or allow for social distancing inside sanctuaries.

What can't I do?

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  • Travel other than going to work, shopping for necessities or conducting other activities allowed under the order
  • Eat in restaurants
  • Use public beach/river accesses
  • Gather in groups of three or more in a way that threatens public health (does not include work or businesses)
  • Attend school classes in person (K-12 through April 30; public colleges through the spring semester)
  • Visit nursing homes or prisons
  • Visit businesses considered "nonessential" that must close

What businesses are closed for being "nonessential"?

  • Nightclubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers
  • Tourist attractions (including museums and aquariums)
  • Racetracks
  • Indoor children’s play areas
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Bingo halls
  • Venues operated by social clubs
  • Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms
  • Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
  • Group exercise facilities (including yoga, barre and spin studios)
  • Spectator sports
  • Sports that involve interaction within 6 feet of another person
  • Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
  • Activities on commercial or public playground equipment
  • Barbershops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Tattoo/body art services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments
  • Furniture stores
  • Home furnishing stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Shoe and clothing accessory stores
  • Jewelry stores
  • Luggage and leather goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Florists
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Bookstores
  • Craft and music stores

What stores can remain open?

These have been mentioned by the governor or listed in executive orders:

  • Supermarkets
  • Hardware and home-improvement stores
  • Gun stores
  • Restaurants can offer takeout or delivery
  • Those not included on "nonessential" lists

Note: Stores can operate to fulfill online or telephone orders. 

What are the restrictions to limit shoppers in stores?

  • No more than five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20 percent of the store's occupancy limit, whichever is less.
  • Businesses must prevent customers from congregating within 6 feet of each other.

What happens to stay-at-home orders issued in Charleston, Columbia and Mount Pleasant?

The state order supersedes them, so they are no longer in effect.

What is the penalty for violating the state stay-at-home order?

Up to $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

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