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Some attractions allowed to open Friday

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Attractions including zoos and aquariums will be allowed to open beginning Friday.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s Wednesday announcement comes with a list of safety guidelines established by the Response committee of AccelerateSC (.pdf). Among them: Facilities will be limited to 50% capacity and required to sanitize surfaces between users.

McMaster also announced that youth and adult sports league will be allowed to begin practicing on May 30 and resume competitive play on June 15. Guidelines (.pdf) will also apply.

Athletes can return to the playing field for games and matches starting June 15, while nightclubs, adult entertainment venues, bowling alleys, theatres and some spectator sports still remain off-limits pending further AccelerateSC guidance.

Other examples of attractions allowed to open Friday are historic buildings and sites, waterparks and miniature golf facilities.

An executive order issued March 17 closed nonessential businesses in the wake of COVID-19 health concerns.

“We can’t keep things closed forever, of course,” McMaster said at a Wednesday news conference. “The constitution doesn’t allow it. Neither does common sense; neither would the economy. Public health consists of economic health, physical health and mental health. … We are mindful of all of those things.”

AccelerateSC will soon issue guidelines for day camps and scouting activities that were not restricted under an executive order, he said.

The guidelines encourage both guests and staff to wear masks, provide adequate personal protective equipment for staff, promote cashless payment and mark six-foot spaces for outdoor queues among other recommendations.

“It’s important to remember: Businesses don’t spread the virus. It is people who are spreading the virus,” state epidemiologist Linda Bell said during the conference.

McMaster and Bell hope to increase per capita testing and contact tracing of the virus with a goal of testing 2% of the state’s population per month with focus on rural and under-resourced communities and nursing homes.

Bell said that, with help from the Medical University of South Carolina and Prisma Health, South Carolina remains on track to meet that goal. An estimated 130,000 COVID-19 tests performed across the state have had a 7% positivity rate, she said.

“In order to begin the safe transition back to a less restrictive day-to-day life and a quality of life, and to revitalize our economy, South Carolina has to increase per capita testing to allow us in public health a more precise idea of disease transmission in communities and understanding of where interventions may be need to control spread,” Bell said.

On Thursday, the S.C. Deparment of Health and Environmental Control announced 125 new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths. The state now has 9,175 confirmed cases and 407 deaths.

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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