Governor issues ‘home or work’ order

COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory statewide “home or work” order Monday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order took effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and permits travel including commuting for work, visiting family and obtaining essential goods or services. The order will not impact residents’ ability to exercise outdoors or go for a walk as a family, but says everyone should act responsibly and practice social distancing and proper personal hygiene.

“As we have said before – when the science, data, facts and experts determine it’s time to take action, it would be taken. It’s time,” McMaster said during a news conference. “Taking this measure now will hopefully slow the future rise in infections and the virus’ toll on our state’s economy.”

Although the order does not close additional businesses left open after the governor’s previous executive orders shuttering “non-essential” businesses, it does implement possible criminal punishments for ignoring the orders, including up to 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both.

The governor also ordered that all retail business still operating limit customer activity by only allowing five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of their posted capacity in a store, whichever is less.

Acting Pickens County administrator Ken Roper said essential government functions are not impacted by McMaster’s most recent order.

“As for nonessential functions, Pickens County is ahead of the curve in some respects,” Roper said. “Our staff already pared down a couple of weeks ago by sending home those county workers that are in at-risk groups and/or could not work in relative isolation from others. Also, since Pickens County has one of the lowest tax rates in the state, we have very few ‘nonessential’ staff positions overall.

Roper said the order simply reinforces what the governor previously directed, “albeit in a piecemeal fashion.”

“Stay home, spend time with the family, work in your garden or yard,” he said. “Rediscover cooking and eating together as a family. All of us can reconnect with our Pickens County roots — a strong history of self-sufficiency — during this crisis, and in doing so, we are actively helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”