South Carolina Governor lifts mandate on face coverings

A sign in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Thursday, June 18, 2020, asks people to maintain social distancing on the beach. People are flocking to South Carolina's beaches for vacation after being cooped up by COVID-19 for months. But the virus is taking no vacation as the state has rocketed into the top five in the country in cases divided by population.

Gov. Henry McMaster lifted mandates Friday on face coverings in South Carolina’s government office buildings and restaurants, leaving it up to state administrative officials and restaurant operators to develop their own guidelines related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order essentially reversed similar guidance from the governor issued in July, when McMaster made it a requirement that anyone entering a state office building, as per guidelines developed by the Department of Administration. At that time, McMaster also issued a similar edict for restaurant-goers and employees.

But, given South Carolina’s declining number of COVID-19 cases, as well as the rising number of residents who have been vaccinated against the virus, McMaster said it was time to begin loosening more mandates – while still maintaining his recommendation that all South Carolinians wear face coverings in public settings where social distancing isn’t an option.

The move is the latest in McMaster’s latest efforts to undo many of the restrictions instituted with the aim of curbing the pandemic. Late last month, he lifted restrictions on late-night alcohol sales and gatherings of more than 250 people, encouraging people “to make responsible decisions.”

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