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Governor's order to dispers gatherings doesn't apply to families, workplaces, law-abiding businesses

The Governor's order urges law enforcement to enforce a statute dispersing groups of 3 or more people in public places

COLUMBIA, S.C. — We're getting a lot of questions about the Governor's order to break up gatherings of more than three people, which was announced Monday.

WLTX set out to separate fact from fear and explain what the order actual means for you and your family.

This week, Governor Henry McMaster issued a new executive order, urging law enforcement to use an existing state statute to limit the number of people gathering in public places.

“To prohibit or disperse any congregation or gathering of people, unless authorized in their homes, in groups of three or more, if law enforcement officials determine in their discretion, that such gathering or congregation in people poses, or could pose, a threat to public health,” McMaster said at a Monday press conference at SCEMD Headquarters.

McMaster said the order is specifically targeting large and or spontaneous crowds on the beaches, at concerts, or in parking lots or other public areas.

He said repeatedly it is not targeted at families or people in their homes.

“A momma and daddy and two children walking along the beach or sidewalk is not what the criminal law is aimed for. In fact, that's a very good thing as long as they go back home and stay away from crowds themselves. Again, every law requires common sense. And we probably have the best law enforcement in the United States right here in South Carolina and if there's one thing they've got plenty of, it's common sense and a lot of experience,” McMaster said near the end of the press conference.

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The Governor added it also does not target law-abiding businesses or workplaces.

He's urging the public and law enforcement to use common sense and discretion when it comes to dispersing public gatherings.

However, violation of the statute could result in a criminal misdemeanor.

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