South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced on Friday that all bars and restaurants in the state must stop serving alcohol by 11 each night to try to stem a statewide rise in coronavirus cases.
This week, South Carolina is averaging 1,570 new cases of the virus per day. That’s more than twice the rate of new cases compared with three weeks ago.
McMaster’s order will go into effect on Saturday night. The governor said it targets young people, who are driving the surge in cases of the virus in many hot spots around the country.
“We know that young adults who are rapidly contracting the virus and spreading it into our communities frequently congregate in late-night atmospheres which simply are not conducive to stopping its continued transmission,” McMaster said in a statement. “This measured, carefully tailored approach will lessen the opportunity for South Carolinians to put themselves and their loved ones in harm’s way.”
As of Friday, the state’s health department says people ages 21 to 30 account for 22% of its confirmed cases. That’s 6% higher than any other age group.
The order will affect about 8,000 restaurants and bars in the state permitted to sell alcohol on-site. It does not apply to grocery stores, liquor stores or any retail business.
“This is an order that a state can enforce,” McMaster said, adding that he believed it would not be possible to enforce another common safety protocol.
“Other things like masks … the state has a very difficult (time) trying to enforce a statewide mask order because one size does not fit all,” he said, according to The State newspaper.
More than 20 states now require people to wear face coverings in public as of Friday. Texas and Florida recently ordered bars to stop serving alcohol for on-site consumption due to surging coronavirus cases.