Gov. McMaster to lift ‘Last Call Order’ and approval process for large gatherings

South Carolina News

FILE (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster is terminating an executive order regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages at bars and restaurants, and a rule on large gatherings beginning Monday.

The ‘Last Call Order’ was implemented in July of 2020 prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling alcoholic beverages every night after 11:00 p.m. amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was an effort to prevent large gatherings among young adults in often close spaces.

“Many of the young people in our state, as well as around the country, seem to not be taking the virus as seriously as they should, and we hope that this will help all of us – particularly the younger generation – to realize just how serious this virus is and what is at stake if we don’t see these infection rates start dropping,” said Gov. McMaster during a press conference on July 10th.

Establishments who did not comply with the order were subject to losing their license.

“With the spread of the virus consistently decreasing across the country and more of the most vulnerable South Carolinians being vaccinated every day, I believe these targeted and limited safety measures are no longer necessary,” said Gov. Henry McMaster in a press release Friday. “The virus is still among us and we all must continue to make responsible decisions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, but those decisions are for South Carolinians to make.”

In addition to lifting the Last Call Order, which is effective on Monday, Gov. McMaster is also suspending the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s approval process for large gatherings.

South Carolinians are still strongly encouraged to take appropriate safety precautions, including practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

“Many South Carolinians have done their part by practicing the prevention measures we know work,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “We are here today because of our citizens’ careful and ongoing efforts and we thank you for taking care of each other and putting your community and people first. I urge you to continue wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, staying home and away from others if you’re sick and when it’s your time, get a safe and effective vaccine. Working together, we will defeat COVID-19.”

While approval will no longer be required by the Department of Commerce, it is recommended that organizers of large gatherings implement the following, previously mandatory, safety guidelines:

  • Limit attendance of large gatherings to either 50% of the event space’s posted occupancy limit or fewer than 250 people
  • All employees, customers, patrons, suppliers, vendors, visitors or other people in attendance at a large gathering should wear a face covering
  • Organizers, operators, owners, or hosts of a large gathering shall take reasonable steps to incorporate, implement, comply with, and adhere to any relevant sanitation, “social distancing,” and hygiene guidelines established by the CDC, DHEC, or any other state or federal public health officials.

Events previously approved by the Department of Commerce that have not yet taken place are encouraged to follow the same guidelines.

Some event organizers say they are monitoring these developments and plan to continue with limited crowd sizes, like organizers with the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island.

“We are monitoring COVID-19 developments related to our planning of the 2021 PGA Championship,” organizers said in a statement to News 2. “We will continue to operate with stakeholders’ health and wellbeing as our top priority.”

The PGA Championship announced earlier this week the event would take place this May with reduced capacity. Other events scheduled for the spring have been cancelled or postponed.

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