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South Carolina's home or work order now in effect: here's what it does

Governor Henry McMaster's executive order began 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 7.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina's "home or work" order is now in effect statewide, a set of stricter rules meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Governor Henry McMaster's executive order began 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 7. In principal, it's much the same as other states' stay-at-home or shelter in place orders.  

The basics: what does it do?

  • Mandates that everyone should stay home unless working, visiting family, or getting necessary goods or service. People can go for walks or exercise as long as they're practicing good social distancing
  • Mandates that retail stores limit customers to no more than 5 customers for every 1,000 square feet of space, or 20 percent capacity, whichever is less, and increasing social distancing
  • No new businesses closed, beyond the executive order that went into effect at 5 p.m. Monday (that included clothing and furniture stores) 
  • Violations will be a misdemeanor with 30 days in jail or a $100 fine.

Does that mean I can't go out to get food or shop? 

No. The order does not prohibit you from leaving your home, it just means that you should only leave home for essential needs. You can go shopping at grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, home improvement stores as you have during the crisis so far. You can continue to get to-go, drive-thru, and delivery from your favorite restaurants as you have been. 

RELATED: El gobernador del SC emite una orden obligatoria de "casa o trabajo" para todo el estado

When will this order end?

The order is in effect until the state of emergency is lifted. The governor can suspend the order at any time as well. 

So what's an essential and non-essential business?

The governor has defined the rules by listing what's non-essential, rather than essential. He did that in two separate orders. 

Here's the non-essential list, as stated on the South Carolina Department of Commerce website: 

1. Entertainment venues and facilities

Night clubs

Bowling alleys


Concert venues

Theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers

Tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums and planetariums)


Indoor children's play areas

Adult entertainment venues

Bingo halls

Venues operated by social clubs

2. Recreational and athletic facilities and activities

Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms

Spas and public or commercial swimming pools

Group exercise facilities (including yoga, barre and spin studios or facilities)

Spectator sports

Sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than six (6) feet of another person

Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment

Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

3. Close-contact service providers

Barber shops

Hair salons

Waxing salons

Threading salons

Nail salons and spas

Body-art facilities and tattoo services

Tanning salons

Massage-therapy establishments and massage service

4. Retail stores 

Furniture and home-furnishings stores

Clothing, shoe and clothing-accessory stores

Jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores

Department stores, with the exception of hardware and home-improvement stores

Sporting goods stores

Book, craft and music stores

Flea markets

Florists and flower stores

Can I go see family? 

Worth repeating from above, but yes, you can see family. But people are urged to use good social distancing and good hygiene even among family meetings, and large gatherings or parties could still be broken up by law enforcement. 

Why was this issued? What changed? 

Gov. McMaster said Monday he put the order in place because people weren't complying as well as hoped with previous orders.  "Too many people are on the roads, the water, in the stores, and are not going along with our requests," he said.

Dr. Linda Bell, the state's infectious disease expert, said they are expecting a surge in cases over the next few weeks.  

What about church? 

Church services are still allowed under the order, with the governor saying he did not want to infringe on the First Amendment. But McMaster urged churches to have outdoor services, stream online, or have good social distancing rules inside the church. 

What about gun shops?

Gun shops are also allowed to stay open. McMaster said the state should also not infringe on the Second Amendment. 

RELATED: How law enforcement is enforcing the 'home or work' order

RELATED: S.C. National Guard preparing for hospital surge plan as Prisma prepares for disease response 'phases'

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