Business owners, leaders react to Gov. McMaster’s hope for businesses reopening in May

Gov. McMaster said the peak of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina should happen before that point

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) says he’s hopeful businesses can start opening again in May and that the economy will thrive by the end of June.

However, some business leaders say a gradual approach towards reopening the economy would help keep employees and customers safe.

It’s been weeks since several South Carolina businesses had to close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Gov. McMaster said it shouldn’t be long before they can open up again.

“We have to be safe, we don’t want to be sorry. We want to move as quickly as we can but also as safely as we can,” Gov. McMaster said.

Even with the goal of opening some businesses up at some point in May, Carl Blackstone with the Columbia Chamber says the vision of how businesses will operate needs to be ironed out.

“Can you practice social distancing in a small environment? Do you need to provide personal protective equipment, facemasks, or guards for your employees? If you’re a retail establishment, do you need to require that for patrons to come in and customers to come into the store? These are all questions that need to be answered,” Blackstone said.

Blackstone is in favor of South Carolina opening businesses back up in May, but says it needs to happen slowly.

“Everyone wants the economy open, but doing it prudently and efficiently in phases will help us prevent another relapse of COVID,” said Blackstone.

Some small business owners, like Katie Straughn of Duck Donuts in Columbia, feel the same way. Straughn says she can’t wait for the day customers can return and watch doughnuts being made. 

“I hope that it happens when it happens. Obviously I want it to be a safe environment for everybody and obviously not too soon, but whenever we can open,” Straughn said.

Governor McMaster says he plans on forming a group called “Accelerate South Carolina” that will oversee the reopening of the state economy. This group will include people involved with several industries, including manufacturing, tourism, and agribusiness. He says he will unveil more details about the group next week.

Categories: Local News, News