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As decreases in hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 continue their apparent incremental decline across the country, businesses seek a light at the end of the tunnel.  Governors eager to get their citizens back to work have begun to formulate plans for reopening their economies. On Monday, April 20, 2020, South Carolina became one of the first states to implement measures for restarting its economy when Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order allowing certain retail establishments to begin operating again.

Citing the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) projection that South Carolina is 11 days beyond the estimated peak in COVID-19-related fatalities, as well as continued daily decreases in hospitalizations, Governor McMaster issued Executive Order No. 2020-28, which amends the prior “Home or Work” Order, that was put in place on April 7, 2020. The new executive order allows certain “non-essential” businesses to reopen, effective April 20, 2020, at 5 p.m.

The order allows furniture stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, sporting goods stores, book stores, flower stores, as well as department stores and flea markets to resume in-store operations. Retailers that reopen for business must comply with the following occupancy and sanitation requirements:

  • “limit the number of customers . . . so as not to exceed five (5) per 1,000 square feet of retail space, or twenty percent (20%) of the business occupancy limit;
  • ensure that customers (except for family units) maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet of one another; and
  • comply with all existing S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DHEC sanitation guidelines.

On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor McMaster also announced the creation of the accelerateSC task force. This group, which will be comprised of business leaders, health care providers, and local government officials, is tasked with providing the governor with short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term recommendations for next steps to restarting the state’s economy.

Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Critical information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.

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