South Carolina Coronavirus Lockdown Rules Explained as State Becomes Latest to Issue Stay-at-Home Order

South Carolina has become the latest state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order as it reports 2,232 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 48 deaths.

On March 31, without passing a stay-at-home order, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster ordered that non-essential businesses should close from April 1 and ordered visitors of South Carolina from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Orleans to quarantine for 14 days.

Rather than ordering that all businesses should close and making exceptions, as most states have done in their stay-at-home orders, McMaster ordered a specific list of non-essential businesses to close.

The non-essential businesses that were recommended to close last week included entertainment venues and facilities, recreational and athletic facilities and activities, close-contact service providers, and non-essential retail stores.

Following the initial closures, due to "non-compliance," on April 3, South Carolina also closed furniture stores, home furnishing stores, shoe, clothing, and accessory stores, jewelry stores, luggage and leather goods stores, department stores, florists, sporting goods stores, book stores, craft, and music stores.

McMaster clarified that any retail businesses remaining open "must limit customers inside to no more than five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of maximum capacity, whichever is less."

But yesterday, McMaster said in a briefing: "Today most of those recommendations are becoming mandates, becoming orders, with criminal penalties attached."

From today, April 7 at 5 p.m. ET, South Carolina's "home or work" order, which is similar to other states' "stay-at-home" orders, will go into effect statewide.

McMaster said that a violation of the mandatory orders would result in a misdemeanor penalty of 30 days in jail and / or a $100 fine for each day of violation.

Henry McMaster
Governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster at the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Alex Wong/Getty

South Carolina "Home or Work" Order Rules

McMaster has issued a "home or work" order which means that South Carolina residents must stay at home or go to work when they cannot work at home, apart from accessing "essential businesses" or "essential activities."

When participating in the listed essential activities or accessing essential businesses, South Carolina residents should maintain social distancing guidelines, which include staying at least six feet away from people outside of their household.

Essential activities in South Carolina's "home or work order" include:

  • Getting essential household items;
  • Seeking medical care;
  • Caring for or visiting a family member;
  • Attending religious services;
  • Traveling for legal obligations;
  • Participating in outdoor recreation;
  • Caring for pets.

Non-essential businesses ordered to close

While McMaster already recommended that these businesses close, as of 5 p.m. today, the following businesses have been ordered to close:

  • Entertainment venues, including night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, tourist attractions, casinos, and bingo halls.
  • Athletic facilities including fitness centers and commercial gyms, spas and public swimming pools, and activities on public playground equipment.
  • Close-contact providers including hair salons, nail salons, spas, tattoo services, tanning salons, and massage services.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts