After nearly 8 weeks of quarantine, social distancing and restrictions on most business operations, South Carolina is gradually returning to work.  Public opinion remains mixed as to when is too soon to reopen.  Nevertheless, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a key figure in the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, has praised South Carolina for its handling of the virus as it prepares to further relax restrictions.  “You have put things in place that I think would optimize your capability of reopening,” Dr. Fauci stated during a senate health committee meeting on Tuesday.

Monday, May 4th marked the beginning of the revival with restaurants being allowed to seat patrons for outdoor dining.  The successful outdoor dining led to indoor dining on May 11th.  Many of the same sanitation, food safety, staff and customer safety precautions are in place with certain additional restrictions including no more than 50% occupancy, tables 8’ apart, limited to groups of 8 or less and a 6’ distance between barstools.  The full South Carolina Strong Guidelines can be found here.  Guidelines from the Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Just because many of the restrictions have been lifted not all restaurants have chosen to reopen citing safety concerns for employees and customers, limited profitability but mostly a “poor experience”.  We will keep a close eye on this over the coming weeks.

Monday, May 18th marks the next phase of re-openings. This includes Gyms, Salons (hair, nail, massage & tattoo) and swimming pools.  These high capacity, close distance service type business have various guidelines to maintain social distancing.  For gyms occupancy is restricted to the lesser of 1/1,000 of GLA up to 20% occupancy and 10 per class.  Salon guidelines include rearranging waiting areas to maintain 6 feet between clients, empty stations between clients and smock changes after each client.  Employees should “strongly consider” wearing a face mask, however this stops short of a requirement.  Other gradual re-opening guidelines are outlined in the OneRegionReignite Paper for small businesses.

State workers will gradually begin returning over the next few weeks. The first to return will be managers, call-center employees and others who cannot effectively complete their jobs remotely.  Governor McMaster also indicated personal protective equipment will be available to these workers as they return.

Most small business owners and many customers have indicated excitement over beginning to return to work.  Conversely, several retailers have filed for bankruptcy while others have announced they will not reopen.  It remains to be seen just how fast, if ever, we will get back to business the way it was pre-COVID-19.  Rest assured we will watch intently HOW businesses reopen and keep you up to date.  The good news is that the parks, beaches and boat ramps are open.

Look UP, Look Forward and Stay Safe!