South Carolina beaches, some retail stores can reopen this week, Gov. McMaster says

South Carolina will slowly begin reopening this week, as officials in the Palmetto State appreciate signs of progress against the coronavirus.

Republican Governor Henry McMaster said he will allow beaches and some non-essential retail stores, including florists, book stores, flea markets, music stores, and department stores, to reopen this week, though social distancing measures and strict occupancy limits will apply, WIS-TV reported. Gyms and salons will remain closed, and dining out will remain on hold.

“I’ve restored public beach access, allowing locals to use their discretion. I’ve also allowed some retailers that were previously closed to open, but they must follow strict social distancing measures. Please stay safe and follow all recommendations from public health experts,” the governor wrote on Twitter Monday.

South Carolina eases lockdown

South Carolina closed its beaches on March 30, and “non-essential” businesses were shuttered shortly afterward. But in recent days, McMaster signaled that he plans to begin restarting the economy, and he started by lifting restrictions on public boat ramps Friday. Various Republican lawmakers also attested to McMaster’s hopes this weekend of getting South Carolina open again.

According to the Post and Courier, officials were encouraged by a slowing of the spread, as South Carolina registers over 4,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 100 deaths. However, local governments will retain control over waterway access, and four beaches and towns in the Low Country, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Edisto Beach, and Folly Beach, signaled that they will leave restrictions in place.

“There is no evidence from medical professionals that indicates that the threat of COVID-19 in our region has diminished,” they said in a joint statement. “South Carolina is still in the acceleration phase and even with the reduction in growth of new cases, new cases could begin to grow quickly if social distancing restrictions are lifted.”

Some governors start to re-open

The steps mark a significant, if cautious, step forward as America grapples with when to restart the economy as the risk of severe economic harm increases. Many Republicans are eager to move on, while many Democrats insist on “staying at home” indefinitely, as per public health experts, to keep the virus under control.

Various governors, Republican and Democrat, have expressed caution about a “second wave” of infections ravaging the population if they open up without significantly expanded testing. But Gov. McMaster is among a handful of state leaders, including Ohio’s Republican governor Mike DeWine, Texas’s Greg Abbott (R), and Colorado’s Jared Polis (D), who are cautiously saying that they’re ready to open things up. In Florida, some beaches have opened again as well.

Battle over re-opening

The friction on re-opening has hardened into an emotional, nationwide battle, with protests against “stay at home” orders and their harmful effects, including at least 22 million unemployed, popping up in various states.

Many Democrats and members of the media have responded with disdain, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who expressed confusion about the anger driving the protests in a Fox News interview on Sunday.

The Democrat claimed that the best way to get the economy running again is for people to stay home. “What we have to do is shelter in place….quarantine is the answer to opening our economy,” she told Chris Wallace on Sunday.

President Trump has made no secret of his sympathy for the protests and his wish to get America open soon, but he is respecting the plans of individual governors — although he did say Saturday that some have gotten “carried away” with restrictions on social and economy activity.

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