Governor McMaster introduces Palmetto Priority initiative for restaurants during pandemic

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – On Tuesday, Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference addressing rising COVID-19 numbers in the state and best practices for restaurants as they continue to operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor McMaster began by asserting that he believes the state does have adequate hospital capacity to handle a spike, and that the best way to control the virus is to have knowledge of how it spreads and how dangerous it is.

He also introduced the Palmetto Priority Initiative, a program to ensure restaurants are adhering to the highest health and safety standards. The SC Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are helping to spearhead the initiative.

Restaurants in compliance with guidelines will be given decals to place in their windows. DHEC will provide verification that the restaurants participating in the program meet guidelines. The public is asked to report violation of any protocols. There will be a “three strikes” rule for violators. On the fourth violation, membership in the program will be revoked.

Governor McMaster said that this approach ensures that officials “are not violating any constitutional limits.”

Requirements include (but are not limited to):

  • Passing a DHEC food safety inspection
  • Managers completing “Serve Safe Reopening Guidance,” a 13 minute online course
  • Adhering to SC Restaurant and Lodging Association Guidelines:
    • Post required signage advising customers not to enter if symptomatic
    • Appropriate signage to promote social distancing and walking traffic patterns
    • Select one person per shift to be in charge of safety and sanitation during the shift, observing and ensuring that hand washing is done appropriately, and sanitation of dining room areas, restrooms, lobbies and door areas is done regularly and consistently (minimum of hourly). 
    • Signs reminding of hand hygiene and proper hand-washing posted for customers and staff
    • Execute the restaurants plan to clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces regularly using chemicals appropriate for COVID-19 disinfection
    • Health safety checks for all employees before each shift
    • Each employee is required to wear a face-covering (i.e., cloth or paper face coverings, face masks, full face shields)
    • Hand sanitizing stations will be available to all customers and employees, including upon entry
    • Parties will maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other parties at all times, except when seated at tables or booths with partitions.
    • Only provide condiments (consider using PC products when appropriate), silverware, flatware, glassware, or other traditional tabletop items upon service/request. When the table is unoccupied all items should be removed
    • Tables are cleaned and disinfected in between seating
    • Self-service items such as buffets or drink stations are eliminated unless an attendant is provided to serve those items to guests or to supervise the use of gloves by the patrons
    • Menus are available digital, single-use or disinfected between guests

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