COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina retail stores and public beach access points that had been closed to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen next week, The Post and Courier reported Saturday.

Gov. Henry McMaster will issue orders Monday to allow for the reopenings to take place on Tuesday, the governor’s chief of staff, Trey Walker, told the newspaper.

The order will apply to numerous nonessential stores, including department stores, flea markets, florists, bookstores and music shops. Grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores and medical facilities have been allowed to stay open during the pandemic.

Occupancy in each store will be limited to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% occupancy, whichever is less, the newspaper said.

Local governments will still be allowed to make their own rules about waterway access. Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms and Folly Beach are among those that have banned access to nonresidents.

McMaster on Friday opened public boat ramps, a first tiny step toward opening the state.

The governor's stay-at-home order will remain in place, as will the ban on eating inside restaurants, Walker said.

Salons and gyms will stay closed for now, although Walker said the governor is considering ways they can be safely reopened in the future.

State health officials on Saturday announced 165 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and three additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 4,246 and those who have died to 119, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Two of the deaths involved elderly individuals with underlying health conditions from Horry County. The other was a middle-aged individual with no known underlying health conditions who was from Aiken County.

So far, DHEC and private labs have combined to administer about 39,000 tests. DHEC estimates the number of COVID-19 cases in the state is nine to 10 times the more than 4,000 people known to be infected.

For most people, this coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause severe illness such as pneumonia, or even death.


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