The governor of the state with the nation’s highest COVID-19 infection rate announced Friday that restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus will end next week.
Statewide bans on large gatherings and late-night booze sales will expire on Monday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced in an executive order on Friday.
Meanwhile, state health officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 1,086 new cases of the coronavirus and 27 confirmed deaths today. With 32,875 tests reported, 5.1% were positive.
The ‘Last Call Order’ was implemented in June 2020, prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m. amid the pandemic in an effort to prevent large gatherings among young adults in confined spaces.
Establishments who were not in compliance risked losing their license.
“With the spread of the virus consistently decreasing across the country and more of the most vulnerable South Carolinians being vaccinated every day, I believe these targeted and limited safety measures are no longer necessary,” McMaster said in a press release Friday.
South Carolina leads the nation in cases of COVID-19 per capita, according to The New York Times. Cases have lessened from highs in January, but rates remain high relative to the rest of the U.S.
All but one county in the state remain at “extremely high risk” for virus transmission, according to the Times‘ analysis.
McMaster is also suspending the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s approval process for large gatherings, though S.C. residents are strongly encouraged to take appropriate safety precautions, including practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings.
“We are here today because of our citizens’ careful and ongoing efforts, and we thank you for taking care of each other and putting your community and people first,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer. “I urge you to continue wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, staying home and away from others if you’re sick and when it’s your time, get a safe and effective vaccine.”