McMaster ends state of emergency order in SC

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Jun. 7—There will no longer be a state of emergency order in South Carolina, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced Monday during a news conference.

The order, which was first implemented in March 2020 and has been renewed every 15 days since, officially lapsed on Sunday.

"It is no longer necessary to have a state of emergency, although it is still necessary for us to be smart, to follow the rules, to follow the guidelines and be very careful," said McMaster.

McMaster also said residents won't see much of a change at all with the state of emergency ending.

McMaster's decision comes as the number of COVID-19 cases across the state has decreased and residents continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Monday, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 79 new cases in the Palmetto State, with one being in Aiken County.

As of Monday, about 46% of South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while about 38% are fully vaccinated.

On vaccines, McMaster said they will not be mandated for students when they go back to school. He said he wants to make sure all the facts about the vaccines are publicly available, and residents can make their own decisions about getting one.

Dr. Edward Simmer, DHEC director, was at the news conference and said he continues to encourage people to get vaccinated.

"If you're kind of on the fence or unsure, please get vaccinated," Simmer said. "That's very important as we move forward."

For information on the vaccine or to find a vaccine location, residents can visit scdhec.gov/covid19 or call the DHEC Vaccination Line at 1-866-365-8110.

The state will continue to receive federal emergency dollars after ending the state of emergency, as that money is not tied to the order, according to Kim Stevenson, S.C. Emergency Management Division director.

McMaster had already rolled back pandemic restrictions over the past few months, including limits on mask-wearing. The governor never issued a statewide mask mandate during the pandemic, as he felt it was unenforceable.

The City of Aiken first enacted mask rules in July 2020 on an emergency basis, before installing a more persistent mask mandate in November that didn't need to be renewed every two months by a supermajority vote. Aiken City Council repealed the mandate on May 5.

Neither the city of North Augusta nor Aiken County ever established a mask requirement. The governments, though, have recommended mask use.