Gov. McMaster: Tourist attractions, including Riverbanks Zoo, able to open this weekend

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will reopen to a limited crowd on Saturday

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) is allowing tourist attractions to open their doors once again.

One of those destinations is the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, which has been preparing for the public to safely return for months since closing in mid-March

The zoo announced their plans to reopen to a limited audience Saturday, May 23, at 9:00 a.m. Even with a smaller crowd able to go inside at one time, people will notice some changes around the complex.

“There will be increased handwashing stations throughout the park, increased hand sanitizer stations throughout the park, and that is for guests’ convenience to encourage frequent use,” said Susan O’Cain with the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. 

That’s not the only change. Tickets will only be available online and guests (including zoo members) will now have to specify what time they plan to visit. Even when people go inside, only a handful of attractions will be open to the public with restrictions. 

“Guests will see our aquarium reptile complex reopen, they will see our birdhouse reopen. However, capacity in those buildings will be limited, we’re looking at a 20 percent capacity,” O’Cain said.

In addition to the zoo, the Governor gave other tourist attractions like amusement parks, aquariums, museums, and even bingo facilities the green light to reopen this weekend as well. Gov. McMaster said this will help drive large crowds away from beaches.

“Even though there will be more people coming in, there will be more places for them to disperse to, more places for them to go. In the end, it will be good for the economy and good for the people as well,” Gov. McMaster said.

As the zoo begins their three-phase approach to reopening this weekend, they encourage everyone to continue washing their hands, wear face masks and maintain social distancing. 

“We’re taking every precaution to make sure that we continue to provide adequate safety measures to go above and beyond, to make sure that our community, our guests, our staff, our animals, everyone remains safe,” O’Cain said.

Some businesses that are not able to reopen include movie theatres, night clubs, bowling alleys, and concert venues.

The South Carolina State Museum will not re-open this weekend. Instead, they will open back up to their members on May 30 and to the general public June 2.

The decision to reopen these businesses comes as the “accelerateSC” task force announced guidelines to help them operate in the midst of a pandemic.

The Governor also announced that youth sports practices could start May 30, and games could begin June 15. He said spectator sports and racetracks, including Darlington Speedway, will still have restrictions.

So far in South Carolina, there have been 9,175 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with at least 407 deaths, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

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