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Dear Chamber Members,

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes: SC Governor to Lift Home-or-Work Order – Allow Outdoor Dining on MondaySC Legislature Coming Back Into Session May 12thCDC Issues New Reopening Guidance for Businesses, Re-Open Sumter Guide, Zoom Webinar Series

1. SC Governor to Lift Home or Work Order and Allow Outdoor Dining on Monday

In a press conference this afternoon, Governor McMaster announced that he would be lifting the Home-or-Work Order for South Carolinians beginning at 12:01 am on Monday, May 4thAt that time, the order will become voluntary, and the Governor asked all citizens to continue to practice safe social distancing and follow previous prevention recommendations.

Also, restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor dining services at restaurants beginning on Monday. The Greater Sumter Chamber will be updating the restaurant guide on our Facebook page Sumter, SC Eat, Dine & Shop Local to show those restaurants with outdoor seating

The Governor also rescinded two executive orders, effective immediately:

  • Executive Order 2020-14: individuals traveling to South Carolina from CDC-identified “Hotspots” will no longer require self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • Executive Order 2020-19: short term rentals, vacation rentals, and other lodging accommodations will be allowed to accept new reservations from individuals traveling from CDC-identified “Hotspots.”

For restaurants seeking to begin outdoor service, Governor McMaster released the following guidelinesprovided by the SC Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA):

  • Existing approved outdoor seating areas:
    • Tables are to be spaced a minimum of 8 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table);
    • Limit table groups to 8 individuals;
    • Eliminate gatherings in the building when entering or exiting outdoor seating area;
    • Maintain strict social/physical distancing guidelines;
    • Sanitize tables, chairs, and seats after every customer
  • If existing, permitted restaurants utilize open areas and temporary tents, all sides of the tent must be open, and the following conditions are required:
    • Tables are to be spaced a minimum of 8 feet from each other (measured from all edges of the table);
    • Table groups are to be limited to 8 individuals;
    • State-approved fire extinguisher within 75 feet of tent area;
    • Minimum of 7-foot-6 inch headroom (ceiling height)

SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts praised the Governor’s announcement stating, “It is time to get SC safely back to work and put our economy back on track. While we need for vulnerable populations to take the appropriate precautions and for everyone to use common sense, the business community is supportive of the Governor’s decision to get started gradually reopening our economy.”

These decisions came as SC State Epidemiologist Linda Bell stated that the data reveals that the state may have plateaued or “flattened the curve” in terms of the number of new COVID-19 cases.

2. SC Legislature Coming Back Into Session May 12th

Thursday, SC House Speaker Jay Lucas and SC Senate President Harvey Peeler issued letters calling the House and Senate back into regular session on Tuesday, May 12th. They expect to be in session on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that week.

The original last day of session was May 14th at 5:00 pm, after which legislators could ONLY meet to take up items listed explicitly in a Sine Die resolution (if passed). However, Speaker Lucas and President Peeler announced their intent to invoke provisions of Section 2-1-180(b) if needed, which allows them to extend the regular session by two weeks, making the new last day of session May 28th.

When they return, it is expected the General Assembly will work on two items at a minimum:

  • Continuing Resolution: extends funding for state government at current fiscal year levels until the General Assembly can return to pass a new budget. This resolution is needed because the General Assembly is not likely to be able to pass a new state budget before the fiscal year ends on June 30th.
    • The House passed its version of the continuing resolution, H.3485, and the Senate passed its version H.3411, but they will have to agree on one version for the bill to become law.
  • Sine Die Resolution: extends the legislative session past the date on which regular legislative work ends on May 14th [or May 28th if they invoke Section 2-1-180(b)]. The Sine Die Resolution will specify when the General Assembly will return, and what specific bills it debates.
    • The Senate has already passed a version of the Sine Die resolution, S.1194.

They MAY also take up other pieces of legislation – but that has not been specified at this point.

3. CDC Issues New Reopening Guidance for Businesses

As states begin the process of reopening, many businesses have reached out for clarification on how best to clean and prepare their spaces for operations. On Wednesday last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new “Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.”

The general framework provided in this document recommends:

  1. Routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure.
  2. Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 can also help reduce the risk. Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is essential.
  3. When EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, alternative disinfectants can be used (for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions). Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products--this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.

Some other top-level items in the guidance include:

  • Some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water, including surfaces NOT frequently touched, and items handled by children.
  • Outdoor areas generally require routine cleaning and do not require disinfection.
    • The targeted use of disinfectants can be done effectively, efficiently, and safely on outdoor hard surfaces and objects frequently touched by multiple people. Certain outdoor areas and facilities, such as bars and restaurants, may have additional requirements.
  • If your workplace, school, or business has been unoccupied for seven days or more, it will only need your routine cleaning to reopen the area.
  • Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection following reopening are:
    • tables,
    • doorknobs,
    • light switches,
    • countertops,
    • handles,
    • desks,
    • phones,
    • keyboards,
    • toilets,
    • faucets and sinks,
    • gas pump handles,
    • touch screens, and
    • ATMs

The CDC also published a two-page “Cleaning & Disinfecting Decision Tool” to further clarify the recommendations for specific surfaces and spaces.

Last week the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce published our Re-Open Sumter Safely community guide based on feedback we received from our survey. You can view and download the guide here.

The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce will be hosting two zoom conference calls to discuss the state and federal response to COVID-19 among other pieces of legislation. On Tuesday, May 5 at 11am the Chamber will host Rep. Murrell Smith and Sen. Thomas McElveen to discuss the state response along with other important issues to our community. You must register here to receive the login credentials. We are accepting questions prior to the conference call and you may submit your questions here.

On Wednesday, May 6 at 11am the Chamber will host Congressman Ralph Norman to discuss the federal response thus far to COVID-19 and any future responses. You must register here to receive the login credentials and you can submit your questions here prior to the call.

These and other resources for businesses are available here.

As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us here with questions. Also, don’t forget about our Small Business Hotline for any of you questions or concerns. Call 803-774-2402.

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