COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia City Council passed their "Stay Home Stay Safe" ordinance in a vote of 6-1 during a live-streamed meeting on Thursday.

The goal of the ordinance is to keep people home and out of public spaces throughout the city, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"I think this is one of the cases where we are going to look back and say if we had done A, B, C, or D on March 26th we would've saved more lives," says Mayor Steve Benjamin. "We've got to step forward and put the preservation of human life at the front of our agenda."

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The move was met with some push back from Councilman Daniel Rickenmann, who voted against the ordinance. He believes the ordinance is similar to what's already in effect throughout the state.

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"I think this is drastic and I say that because for the last few weeks, businesses have been suffering down," says Rickenmann. "When I look through it and the effects, I don't see how a month of this is gonna change anything other than making sure that people are getting their essentials. This doesn't change what we are doing now."

Currently the City of Columbia is under a curfew that lasts from 11 pm to 6 am daily.

This ordinance goes a step further saying:

Individuals shall stay in their homes and not travel through or congregate in the streets, sidewalks, waterways and/or public spaces in the City of Columbia.

However, essential services will remain open. Those essential services include:

  • Heath care services, including research labs, hospitals, walk-in care facilities, veterinary services
  • Essential infrastructure services, including power generation, fuel services public water, telecommunication and data center
  • 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 station, restaurant/bars, hardware and building material stores
  • Garbage, trash, recycling, mail, shipping services, laundromats, dry cleaning, building cleaning and maintenance, child care services, warehouse distribution, funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries, storage for essential businesses, animal shelters, education institutions for distance learning
  • News media 
  • Banks, credit unions, check-cashing services, insurance, payroll, accounting, and services related to financial markets and legal services. 
  • 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 
  • 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, disinfection mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services.
  • Real-estate brokers and real estate management 

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Mayor Benjamin says the move came after law enforcement had to break up gatherings in city parks and parties at student housing.

At this time, the stay-at-home ordinance only applies to the City of Columbia. Here is a map of the city limits.

You can also type your address into this interactive map, to see if you are within the city limits.

However, Mayor Benjamin is hopeful that other municipalities, like Richland County and Forest Acres will follow the City's actions.

The ordinance goes into effect at 12:01 am Sunday, March 29th and will last for 14 days.