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County extends state of emergency

8 mins read

Dine-in eating returns; McMaster to open close contact services, gyms, pools

By Mike McCombs

Photo by Bob Sofaly

Though Governor Henry McMaster is opening South Carolina back up at a steady pace – dine-in service at restaurants returned Monday and close contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms, and public or commercial pools will be able to open in a limited capacity on Monday, May 18 – Beaufort County’s State of Emergency will go on for at least another month, though you may not notice at all.

Beaufort County Council voted Monday night to extend the county’s state of public health emergency until June 11. The declaration would have expired May 16.

Under the state of emergency, County Administrator Ashley Jacobs was given the power to enact an emergency operations plan and make certain unilateral decisions about county operations in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

According to Beaufort County spokesperson Liz Farrell, all this extension does is ensure that should a development require swift response, Jacobs will be able to act. Farrell said it should not affect the average citizen or their ability to go about their day-to-day lives.

Currently, the majority of county departments, facilities and buildings are closed and county business is being conducted remotely or by telephone and email.

Additional businesses to re-open Monday, May 18

Close contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms, and public or commercial pools will be able to open in a limited capacity on Monday, May 18.

Close contact service providers include the following businesses: Barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.

Commercial gyms will include group exercise facilities such as yoga studios, barre classes, and others.

“With our increased capacity for testing the people of our state, it is time to responsibly and gradually get these small businesses back up and running,” McMaster said. “We have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the world by reinvigorating our economy while staying safe, but we can only do that if South Carolinians continue to follow the advice and recommendations of our public health experts.”

The governor’s announcement comes following nearly three weeks of accelerateSC meetings, in part, for the purpose of developing guidelines for operations that each of these businesses are expected to follow, if and when they choose to open.

Municipal Court to resume sessions Thursday, May 14

The City of Beaufort Municipal Court will resume court sessions beginning Thursday, May 14, with new social distancing and health guidelines to help minimize risk to court participants.

Courthouse administrative offices are open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Defendants are encouraged to contact the court before their court date for information regarding reductions in fines or diversionary programs; call 843-525-7036. Defendants are also encouraged to email proof of compliance to courtcontacts@cityofbeaufort.org.

– What to expect when appearing on your trial date?

A check-in station will be set up outside the Courthouse near the disability-accessible entry. The docket will be checked to ensure you are on it and your temperature may be taken.

– Other guidelines: Face masks are required to enter the courtroom; Social distancing guidelines will be in force; One defendant will appear in court at a time; City staff will wear gloves and face masks; If paperwork is required after court, it will be emailed or mailed to you.

If you are ill, please contact the court team at 843-525-7036.

SCDMV returns to normal schedule

Starting Wednesday, May 13, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) will have returned to operating five days a week at all but two branch office locations. Customers must continue to schedule appointments through the agency’s website at SCDMVonline.com to maintain social distancing inside branch offices.

Social distancing requirements will remain in effect at all SCDMV Branch Office locations. Customers must continue to adhere to 6 feet of physical separation between themselves and others while waiting to enter a SCDMV Branch Office.

Branch Office lobbies will not be available as waiting areas, and the SCDMV will ensure proper distancing by serving customers using every other counter. Sneeze guards are in place for the protection of both customers and employees. Frequent sanitization will also be a priority of our employees to prevent the spread of germs.

Non-commercial road tests remain suspended but the SCDMV is assessing several options to resume this service to license drivers. In the interim, a customer in need of a non-commercial road test may contact a licensed driving school in South Carolina to determine if the driving school is offering road tests.

The SCDMV will continue to offer motorcycle licensing road tests and will also continue to offer a limited number of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) skills tests at select locations. Customers are encouraged to check the SCDMV website at SCDMVonline.com to see if they can complete their transactions online before attempting to make appointments.

SC reports 147 new cases of coronavirus

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Tuesday announced 147 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 9 additional deaths, bringing the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 7,927 and those who have died to 355.

There were two news Beaufort County cases bringing the total to 282 with 12 deaths in the county.

Clockwise from left, Jack Duncan, Sophia and Scarlett Mercier and Lucy Duncan, take a break from their coloring books to mug for the camera Monday at Fish Camp on 11th Street in Port Royal. The popular seafood restaurant opened its doors Monday for dining in per South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s orders regarding social distancing. Seated in the background are the children’s parents and grandparents, Mickey and Judy McAllister, Jennifer Duncan and Denise and Mark Mercier, who gathered for a late Mother’s Day celebration. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

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