Gov. McMaster allows certain small retailers to open doors, but with certain restrictions

Only 20% of the store's occupancy, or five customers per 1,000 sq. feet, are allowed in a store at a given time

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) announced the latest step towards reopening the South Carolina economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

His newest executive orders allows public beach access, giving the authority to local governments to determine if their beaches will be open to the public, while also giving the green light to certain small small retailers and other non-essential businesses to open their doors provided they allow a small number of customers inside.

These businesses include furniture stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, department stores (with the exception of hardware and home improvement stores, which weren’t included in the executive order that initially closed the listed businesses), sporting goods stores, book stores, flea markets, and flower shops.

Salons, barbers, and gyms are among the businesses that will remain closed until further notice.

“We’re not opening things up all the way, but we’re just going out gradually just like how we came in gradually,” Gov. McMaster said.

The small, previously “non-essential” retailers have to adhere to the same guidelines that larger retailers had to follow. Under the new executive order, Gov. McMaster said all businesses that are now open can only allow five customers per every 1,000 square feet, or 20% of the store’s occupancy in the store at one time.

Some say this is a small step in the right direction, but won’t bring instantaneous change to their economic situations.

Some small business owners, like James D. McCallister of Loose Lucy’s, say the last few weeks have been tough and have forced his business to adjust in order to stay afloat.

“We’re like everyone else, it’s been difficult, there’s no question because the moment that USC kind of closed, that was the end of business in this neighborhood,” McCallister said.

Some say these changes are a small step, but might not push people to drop everything and head to the stores just yet.

“This is going to be a slow process opening up the economy. I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of people coming out and doing a lot of shopping,” said Carl Blackstone, the President/CEO of the Columbia Chamber.

Meanwhile, Governor McMaster announced the creation of a group of business and community leaders called “Accelerate SC” to facilitate the reopening of the economy. Their first meeting will take place by the end of the week.

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