COLUMBIA, S.C. — The city of Columbia will impose a citywide night curfew as the area responds to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

The city council approved the new rule Tuesday at a meeting. The restrictions will begin Wednesday night and will be in effect from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.  

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Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said the goal is to get people to stop congregating late at night to stop the spread of the disease.

The decision comes about an hour after the first coronavirus case in Richland County was confirmed by state health officials.

There will be some exemptions, such people going to work, seeking medical treatment, or a public safety emergency.  The curfew could be lifted at any time by the mayor and the council but would automatically expire after 61 days. 

People who are stopped will be asked to go inside or home. If they don't, they could face a fine. 

On Monday the city approved a state of emergency ordinance that would allow the city to take a range of actions, including a possible curfew.  The city hasn't used a citywide curfew since the flood of October 2015. 

What is the Coronavirus? 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. DHEC is working with CDC to identify all those who might have been in contact with these individuals. These people will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

People can help to prevent the spread of the virus in the following ways:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And, always wash your hands with soap and water if they are visibly dirty.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • stay home when you’re sick.
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and put it in the trash immediately.
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • get the influenza vaccine.

For general questions about COVID-19 residents should visit the DHEC website at scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

For residents concerned about their own personal health or are showing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, please call your personal doctor or healthcare provider. DHEC has launched its Care Line. If residents have general questions about COVID-19, the DHEC Care Line is here to help. Call 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call volume has been high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time.