By Patrick Phillips | May 11, 2020 at 4:00 AM EDT - Updated May 11 at 6:20 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina restaurants can reopen for inside dining on Monday as concerns continue to be voiced about protecting workers and others in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Henry McMaster lifted more of the restrictions initially put in place to stem the coronavirus outbreak and promising to soon discuss reopening other businesses. The governor said Friday that restaurants could open starting Monday for indoor dining as long as they kept patrons to 50% occupancy, placed tables 6 to 8 feet apart andfollowed stringent cleaning and sanitizing guidelines.
Those include keeping hand sanitizer at entrances and removing previously shared condiments from tables. Restaurants were allowed to open for limited outdoor dining this week.
McMaster said during a Friday afternoon news conferenceit will now be up to each establishment to determine whether they can open.
“Every restaurant owner or every manager will have to make decisions based on their customers, their clientele, their staff, the safety of their staff, the people working, the people visiting," he said. "But we are urging the people to follow to use common sense. And to think about the danger that is still posed by the virus, and of course we’re still urging, everyone to practice social distancing.”
When asked about reports of large crowds outside some restaurants with people not practicing social distancing, McMaster said everyone would be responsible for their own conduct.
“That’s why we were urging the restaurants to know their clientele, which they do, and understand the dangers,” he said. “And if law enforcement sees a situation where those rules, those considerations, those courtesies, that care is not being taken, then they can step in and disperse the crowd and if necessary. They can issue citations.”
McMaster's accelerate SC Task Force will meet again Monday as well. They are expected to discuss when businesses like salons, gyms and nail shops could reopen.
The state reported 113 new confirmed infections and the death of an older person in Marion County on Sunday. That pushed South Carolina’s infection totals above 7,600 and its death toll to 331.
Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.
Photo: Live 5 News