(The Center Square) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a continuing resolution that ensures the “continued and uninterrupted” operation of state government functions into the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.
H3411 also appoints the state Legislature as sole authority in determining how to spend $1.9 billion in federal COVID-19 relief the state will receive.
As of Wednesday, South Carolina had 9,056 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, including 399 deaths.
McMaster said the “sole purpose” of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is to reimburse state agencies, local governments, first responders, hospitals, school districts and public universities for costs incurred in coronavirus prevention.
“These relief funds belong to the people of South Carolina, not politicians, and we must deliver them where they are needed,” he said in a statement. “Consideration for their appropriation must be done expeditiously – but also wisely, transparently and with meticulous accountability.”
Lawmakers previously set aside $20 million in a disaster trust fund should a natural disaster – such as a hurricane – strike the state while they are on recess until mid-September.
McMaster, however, asked the General Assembly to return to session as soon as possible to start dealing with how to disburse the CARES Act money.
McMaster also said he would make a decision soon on allowing tourist attractions and amusement parks to reopen for Memorial Day weekend.
Tourism officials said they have seen a $2 billion drop in revenues since mid-March. Even though pools and other attractions were closed, large crowds gathered in Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island last week.
Duane Parrish, head of the state’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism agency told a AccelerateSC panel that allowing pools and other attractions to reopen “would relieve some of that pressure of people being together in one place.”
Places such as amusement parks, go-kart tracks, mini-golf courses, arcades, laser tag arenas, roller skating rinks and inflatable bounce houses would be able to reopen, albeit with occupancy restrictions and other guidelines.
Staff and customers would be encouraged to wear masks, and staff would have to disinfect equipment after each customer use.
Hotels also are planning to change how they operate. Several chains said maid service will be provided only when requested, and rooms would remain empty for 24 hours after a guest checks out to ensure thorough cleaning.
Elections officials said more than 100,000 requests for absentee ballots already have been made for the June 9 primary. That compares to about 60,000 in a typical primary election. Legislators recently passed a bill allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot without having to provide a reason.