City, Coronavirus, News

What you need to know about Charleston’s “Stay at Home” ordinance

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The American Theater | Photo by the CHStoday team

At 12:01 a.m. Thursday, an emergency “Stay at Home” ordinance went into effect across the city of Charleston.

Confused about what this all means? We’re here to break it down for you.

WHO: The ordinance applies to everyone in the city of Charleston. Individuals should stay inside their homes at all times, with a few exceptions (we’ll get to that in a second).

WHAT: City Council approved the measure in a 9-4 vote during an emergency meeting held Tuesday night. Those who voted “no” were not necessarily 100% opposed to it: Councilman Mike Seekings opposed it on the basis he felt it wasn’t strict enough, while Councilman Keith Waring disagreed with the amount of time it will be in effect.

WHEN: This took effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 26 (today) and will last for two weeks.

WHERE: The ordinance applies across city limits. It is not at this time applicable to unincorporated parts of Charleston County. Charleston is the only city in South Carolina to enact such an ordinance so far – neighboring municipalities like North Charleston and Mount Pleasant do not have a similar rule in place currently – but leaders expressed hope during the meeting that Charleston could stand out as a leader by being the first city in the state to make such a call. They might be onto something: after the ordinance was passed here, Columbia leaders called a meeting for tonight to discuss the issue.

WHY: DHEC confirmed the virus is spreading locally from person to person in South Carolina. In other words: coronavirus cases that are popping up in SC are no longer being traced strictly to travel from other areas – rather, the virus is spreading within our communities. That creates a significantly increased risk that residents could be exposed to coronavirus and get infected – by minimizing person-to-person interaction, we can potentially minimize the spread of the virus.

Like we said, there are some exceptions as to when you can leave the house. There are also some businesses that can continue to operate under the ordinance. 

 

Here’s what you can still leave your house to do

Go to work, if your employer is among those permitted to stay open

Go to the grocery store

Go to the pharmacy

Go to a restaurant to pick up takeout food

Deliver essential items (like groceries and medication) to someone who isn’t able to get it themselves

Go outside for recreational purposes (but only by yourself or with someone you live with, and in a group of three or less people)

 

Here’s what you can’t do

Go to a friend or family member’s house (unless you’re their caregiver or delivering groceries or medication)

Outdoor recreation that can’t be done with at least 6 feet of distance between you and others who aren’t apart of your household

Go to work, if your employer is not among those permitted to stay open

 

Businesses that are allowed to remain open

Essential health care operations including, research and laboratory services, hospitals, walk-in-care health facilities, veterinary and livestock services, elder care, medical wholesale and distribution, home health care workers or aides, doctor and emergency dental, nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities, medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers.

Essential infrastructure operations including utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission, public water and wastewater, telecommunications and data centers, airports/airlines, transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages, hotels, and places of accommodation, the South Carolina Port Authority.

Essential manufacturing operations including food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages, chemicals, medical equipment/instruments, pharmaceuticals, sanitary products, telecommunications, microelectronics/semi-conductor, agriculture/farms, household paper products, vehicle and aircraft manufacturing.

 Essential retail operations including grocery stores and all food and beverage stores, big box stores or wholesale clubs that have in house grocery or pharmacy services, pharmacies, convenience stores, direct farm to consumer sales, gas stations, restaurants/bars (but only for take-out or/delivery), hardware and building material store and online retailers that deliver products and services to individual’s homes or businesses.

 Other essential service operations including garbage, trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal, mail and shipping services, laundromats and dry cleaning, building cleaning and maintenance, child care services, warehouse/distribution and fulfillment, funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries, storage for essential businesses, animal shelters, educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions

 News media

 Financial Institutions and Professional Services operations including banks, credit unions and check cashing services, insurance, payroll, accounting, services related to financial markets and legal services.

 Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations including, homeless shelters and congregate care facilities, food banks, human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs, the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support.

 Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations including, homeless shelters and congregate care facilities, food banks, human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs, the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support.

 Construction including, skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers, other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes, other construction where the contractor can ensure social distancing.

 Defense operations including defense and national security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the US government.

 Essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses including, law enforcement, fire prevention and response, building code enforcement, security, emergency management and response, building cleaners or janitors, general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor, automotive repair, disinfection mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services.

 

Businesses that must close

 Retail stores and shopping malls (except as exempted by the ordinance)

 Fitness centers, including yoga, barre and cycling facilities

Entertainment facilities including, but not limited to:
             ○ Music venues
             ○ Theaters
             ○ Museums
             ○ Movie theaters
Arts and crafts businesses
Dance schools
Entertainment facilities including, but not limited to:
             ○ Ice skating rinks
             ○ Bowling alleys
             ○ Trampoline parks
             ○ Sporting event venues, including golf courses
Barber shops and hair salons
Day spas
Tattoo and body piercing shops
Private clubs (except for the provision of food for take-out and/or delivery)

If a business owner feels their business should be considered essential (and therefore should be able to continue to operate), they can fill out a Essential Business Review Application online.

You can find the ordinance in its entirety here.