Who Are Essential Workers in South Carolina?
The coronavirus or COVID-19 took most of the country by surprise, including those in South Carolina. In March, due to the rapid spread of the virus, governors across the country began ordering schools and businesses close and for residents to stay at home. On April 6, 2020, Governor McMaster issued an executive order requiring most South Carolina residents stay at home to reduce the rate at which COVID-19 spreads. However, the Governor’s executive order leaves room for many “essential” businesses to continue operation. Employees who work for these essential businesses, depending on their employers, may be required to come into work.
South Carolina’s Governor McMaster’s Executive Order Explained
According to Governor McMaster’s executive order, certain businesses are classified as non-essential. These businesses are required to remain closed to all non-employees and cannot re-open until the expiration of the emergency order. South Carolina non-essential businesses are:
- Entertainment venues and facilities, including:
- Night clubs
- Bowling alleys
- Concert venues
- Indoor children’s’ playgrounds
- Adult entertainment venues
- Bingo halls
- Social clubs
- Recreational and athletic facilities, including:
- Gyms and exercise clubs
- Swimming pools
- Spectator sports
- Activities on commercial playground equipment
- Close-Contact service providers, including:
- Hair and nail salons
- Tanning salons
- Tattoo parlors
- Massage-therapy establishments
- Retail stores, including:
- Furniture stores
- Clothing and shoe stores
- Jewelry stores
- Department stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Book stores
- Flea markets
The Governor’s order goes on to describe a few activities that are considered “essential” and are permitted to remain open during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These essential businesses include:
- Individuals operating commercial vehicles transporting essential goods and products, such as food, water, medicine, medical supplies and equipment, fuels and petroleum products, livestock, poultry, feed for livestock and poultry, and crops and other agricultural products ready to be harvested;
- individuals employed by airlines;
- individuals otherwise engaged in commercial transportation activities;
- Individuals performing or assisting with military operations;
- Individuals performing or assisting with healthcare operations;
- Individuals performing or assisting with public safety operations; or
- Individuals performing or assisting with emergency response operations.
Clearly, the Governor’s executive order does not cover all businesses. In fact, there are a large number of businesses that would seem to be in a gray area between the classifications of essential and non-essential business. The executive order provides some guidance here, explaining that “any retail business not identified by the general description above, or authorized to continue operations” are subject to the following emergency rules and restrictions:
- Businesses must limit their occupancy to either five customers per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of their occupancy as determined by the fire marshal;
- Businesses must not knowingly allow customers, employees, vendors, or anyone else who is on business property to congregate within six feet of others; and
- Businesses must follow strict sanitation procedures, as set forth by the Center for Disease Control, or any other state or federal agency.
Thus, the businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the executive order are allowed to remain open, provided they follow the above guidelines. Employers who fail to take these recommendations seriously put employees at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.
Employees who have contracted the coronavirus may be entitled to monetary compensation either through a South Carolina workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. However, due to the complexities raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the many unanswered questions it presented, infected workers are encouraged to reach out to a dedicated South Carolina personal injury attorney for immediate assistance.
Contact a South Carolina Injury Occupational Disease Lawyer Today
While any South Carolina personal injury or worker’s compensation case can be complex, this is especially the case given the unprecedented situation the COVID-19 crisis presents. The attorneys the Steinberg Law Firm, LLP, are here to help you and your family through this difficult time. We represent South Carolina healthcare workers and other essential employees who have contracted the coronavirus. Even if you are not certain where you contracted the virus, we can help. Our knowledgeable and compassionate team of South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers recognize the difficulties all essential workers are facing, and cater our representation accordingly, making sure to answer all your questions in a straightforward and understandable manner.
At the Steinberg Law Firm, your health and security are critically important to us, especially during the COVID-19 National Emergency. Our lawyers and paralegals will be working remotely to ensure both new and existing clients will not experience any interruptions in service. We have deployed remote working technology and can accommodate phone and video conferencing.
If you need our help for whatever reason, please contact us so we can learn how to help you. As always, we offer free consultations. During this remote period, we will conduct our initial consultation over the phone via FaceTime or Zoom - whatever works best for you.
*This page was written with the most up to date information and this information is subject to change as more information about the virus is released & found.