McMaster lifts mask mandate for S.C. government buildings, restaurants

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 11:42 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Friday that face masks would no longer be mandatory in government buildings.

The governor’s executive order rescinds mandatory face coverings in state government offices, buildings and facilities. Additionally, McMaster’s directive begins the process of facilitating the return of the remaining state employees back to the workplace on a full-time basis, a press release stated.

“Now that the majority of South Carolinians are eligible to receive the vaccine, and infections and hospitalizations have dropped significantly, state agency heads may safely bring back the last group of state employees working remotely,” McMaster said.

Additionally, the executive order recommends previously mandatory face masks in restaurants.

The announcement came roughly an hour after McMaster indicated that the state’s few remaining COVID-19 restrictions would soon be a thing of the past.

While visiting the mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Darlington Raceway on Friday, McMaster was asked if the few lingering restrictions are going away.

“They are going away soon,” the governor said.

When asked when that might happen, McMaster responded, “maybe this afternoon,” eliciting laughs from the other speakers at the event.

“We only have a couple things left, and I was working on an executive order on the way over here,” McMaster said. “We don’t need those anymore. We’ve working through all of that.”

Last Friday, McMaster announced the state’s “Last Call” order was being lifted. Restaurants and bars were able to resume serving alcoholic drinks past 11 p.m. on March 1.

Additionally, the governor said the S.C. Department of Commerce approval for events involving more than 250 people would no longer be required.

While statewide mandates may be rescinded, Grand Strand municipalities still have their own local ordinances in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The city of Myrtle Beach has an executive order requiring people to wear face masks and coverings inside certain businesses. That includes retail establishments and restaurants.

“We have such a large percentage of our residents who are aged 65 and older,” Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune previously said. “This is about being safe for them as well as for our visitors. So the mask order will stay in place, indefinitely at this point. We don’t know when the right time is to lift it. We’re not there yet.”

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