Source: South Carolina Chamber of Commerce

Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday afternoon he had issued Executive Order 2020-21, putting a mandatory “Home-or-Work Order” in place beginning Tuesday, April 7, at 5 p.m. to help limit the spread of COVID-19. This new order MAKES NO CHANGES to the current list of non-essential businesses that must close. To review that list, see previous communications here and here.

The Governor’s order requires that all residents and visitors in South Carolina limit their movements outside of their home, UNLESS they are engaged in Essential Business, Essential Activities, or Critical Infrastructure Operations.

The order requires retail businesses that are not deemed non-essential to limit customers to no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet of space or 20% of occupancy limit as determined by the fire marshal, whichever is less.

The SC Chamber Team anticipates questions about this executive order, which we attempt to answer below.

When does the Governor’s Home-or-Work Order go into effect?

  • Tuesday, April 7 at 5 p.m.

How long is the Home-or-Work Order effective?

  • Until the State of Emergency ends.

The Governor’s order allows individuals to conduct “Essential Business.” What is this?

  • An Essential Business is any business that has not been deemed “non-essential” by two previous executive orders. See bullet 5.

The Governor’s order allows individuals to conduct “Critical Infrastructure Operations.” What is this?

  • Individuals operating commercial vehicles transporting essential goods and products
  • Individuals are performing any essential services identified by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s guidance, including amendments thereto, for continued critical infrastructure viability.

How is the Home-or-Work Order different for businesses than the previous executive orders?

  • This order does not change the list of “non-essential” businesses that must close. Only companies classified as “non-essential” in the Governor’s previous two executive orders must close. See the full list here.
  • It does require individuals to stay home UNLESS they are conducting “Essential Activities” (see below for explanation).
  • Also, there are new requirements for retailers not deemed non-essential. Those stores must limit customers to no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet of space or 20% of occupancy limit as determined by the fire marshal, whichever is less.

The Governor’s order allows residents to continue to conduct “Essential Activities.” What are these activities? Read the order for a full explanation.

  • Caring for or visiting family
  • Obtaining necessary goods and services for household consumption and use
  • Seeking medical care for persons and pets
  • Engaging in outdoor recreational activities using six feet social distancing
  • Attending religious services

Is there a penalty for not following this order?

  • Yes. A violation of this order is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine (up to $100) or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

Are there travel restrictions punishable by a penalty associated with the Home-or-Work Order?

  • No, individuals can still travel to essential work and activities as needed. The order requires no special credentials to travel to essential work or activities at this time.

If I’m not sure whether or not I am an essential business, who can I contact?

  • First, the Governor’s previous orders only close “non-essential businesses” and only those on the list, as explained in bullet three. Second, if after reviewing the list, you are still uncertain about whether your business needs to close, then you can complete the Essential Business Clarification” form via the Department of Commerce’s website, email, or call 803-734-2873. The department will review the request, and the business will receive a determination within 24 hours. Finally, the Governor’s Office clarified: “If a business is not explicitly addressed in the governor’s executive order, the business should continue normal operations until a determination is made.”

Some cities have stay-at-home ordinances in effect, like Columbia and Charleston. If I am a business in a city with a stay-at-home ordinance, what order should I follow?

  • The Governor’s previous orders state that his orders “supersedes and preempts” any part of a local ordinance that conflicts with his order. If your business is required to close under a local ordinance but can stay open under the Governor’s orders, then we suggest you contact the SC Department of Commerce per bullet 4 for more clarification. Keep in mind that the SC Attorney General has issued an advisory opinion that states local stay-at-home ordinances are still valid until a court determines they violate state law. Attorney General Wilson believes state law only grants the Governor these types of emergency powers.