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SC governor lifts pandemic limits on alcohol sales, mass gatherings

The rule changes will go into effect on Monday, March 1.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster will lift the state's rules on approvals for large gatherings and selling alcohol at bars after 11 p.m., two orders designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

McMaster announced Friday he'll rescind several executive orders on Monday, March 1. 

Currently, any event seeking to have more than 250 people attend must seek approval for a permit from the South Carolina Department of Commerce. With this change, that will not longer be necessary, and capacity limits will be lifted.

RELATED: COVID-19 business restrictions in SC could loosen soon

That change has implications for large events such as sporting events, concerts, and large outdoor festivals. 

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.

McMaster also is getting rid of his so-called 'last call' order which prohibited the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m. 

RELATED: Columbia mayor weighs in on possible lifting of 11 pm 'Last Call Order'

“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. “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."

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.

The governor's orders large remove any remaining statewide restrictions on the virus. Last October, he allowed restaurants to be open at full capacity. Local ordinances requiring masks, however, remain in place. 

“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.”