COLUMBIA, S.C. — A citywide stay-at-home order is now in effect in Columbia, an effort the leaders of the capital hope will stop the further spread of the coronavirus.
The order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning. It's only in for areas in the city's jurisdiction, which does not include Forest Acres or Richland County outside of the city's lines.
It lasts for two weeks.
The measure restricts most movement through the city, except for people going to work at an essential services, buying groceries or picking up food at a restaurant, or going to get services at an essential business.
Columbia's not alone in passing something like this: Charleston put one in place earlier in the week.
While Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the measure is necessary, there has been some push back. Most notably, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson issued an opinion Friday saying local governments don't have the authority to issue such orders, adding that's a power reserved for the governor. He said jurisdictions which pass such measures could lead themselves open to lawsuit.
But Benjamin disagrees, explaining that the city does have the statutory right to put in place these restrictions. "No ordinance passed has conflicted with the Governor’s authority and we would embrace his clear support of our efforts to save lives in our city," he said Saturday.
He also said the city's prepared to defend their position in court.
For now, the order is in effect. So below, here's the basics on what it will do.
Does the ordinance apply to me?
The ordinance applies to everyone who lives or operates a business within Columbia's city limits.
Here is a map of the City of Columbia.
If you can't tell from the map, you can also take a look at your recycling bins. If they are blue, and have the city's seal on the side, then you live within the city limits.
What are the essential services?
The list of essential services is pretty extensive, but it basically includes health care services, grocery stores, law enforcement and financial institutions.
- Heath care services, including research labs, hospitals, walk-in care facilities, veterinary and livestock services, elder care, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care workers or aides, doctor and emergency dental, nursing homes or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities, medical supplies and equipment manufactures and providers.
- Essential infrastructure services, including power generation, fuel supply and transmission, public water and wastewater, telecommunication and data centers, airports/airlines, transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages, vehicle sales and services, hotels, and places of accommodation, the South Carolina Port Authority
- Essential manufacturing including food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages chemicals, medical equipment/instruments, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, telecommunications, microelectronics/semi-conductor, agriculture/farms, household paper products, vehicle and aircraft manufacturing
- Essential retail, including grocery stores, food and beverage stores, pet stores that sell food and medications, big box stores, wholesale clubs that have grocery and pharmacy, convenience stores, direct farm to consumer sales, gas stations, restaurant/bars (takeout/drive-thru/delivery only), hardware and building material stores and online retailers that deliver products and services to individuals homes and businesses.
- Garbage, trash, recycling, mail, shipping services, laundromats, dry cleaning, building cleaning and maintenance, child care services, warehouse distribution and fulfillment, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, storage for essential businesses, animal shelters, education institutions for distance learning, research, and essential functions.
- News media
- Financial institutions and professional services operations including banks, credit unions, check-cashing services, insurance, payroll, accounting, and services related to financial markets, and legal services. Travel agencies for the purpose of cancellations and refunding.
- Services for economically disadvantaged people, including homeless shelters, food banks, human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs, those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support.
- Commercial and residential construction, including electricians, plumbers, landscape services, pool maintenance, nurseries, construction firms and people needed for emergency repair and safety purposes
- Defense operations including defense and national security-related operations
- Law enforcement, fire prevention, building code enforcement, security, emergency management and response, building cleaners and janitors, general maintenance whether employed by the direct entity or a vendor, automotive repair, motorcycle and bicycle repair, disinfection, mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services.
- Real-estate brokers and real estate management
Will there be a statewide order?
At this time, no. Governor Henry McMaster has not issued a stay-at-home order for the Palmetto State. However, he does suggest that people limits groups to less than three people and wash their hands to prevent the spread of the virus.
"If they follow the rules that are suggested and required here that are based on science, data and experts, if they will do those things then we don't have to have mandates like they may have in some other parts of the country," says Gov. McMaster.
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 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.