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SC businesses prep up as state opening plan begins

(Source: WRDW)
(Source: WRDW)(WRDW)
Published: May. 11, 2020 at 7:17 PM EDT
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News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AIKEN, SC. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Restaurants in South Carolina have the opportunity to start reopening their doors for indoor dining as a part of Gov. McMaster's four-phase plan. Some owners more than willing to open up, and others, aren't quite ready yet.

The announcement came on Friday -- when Gov. McMaster said this was the next step in reviving the state’s economy.

This is phase two of McMaster’s four-phase plan to revive the restaurant industry. Phase three would allow more customers inside restaurants -- and phase four would relax social distancing requirements.

But the governor says those won't be implemented until this step proves successful.

Even though restaurants are allowed to reopen indoor dining, it seems most in our area have chosen to stick with outdoor seating and take-out for now. For the few restaurants that did choose to reopen today, the governor recommends they only seat at 50 percent capacity and space tables 6 to 8 feet apart.

Some restaurants say they need more time to prepare for a safe opening -- while others say, they weren’t going to wait another minute.

"We just want to make sure that if we have that many people in our building, that we’re staffed appropriately to sanitize completely in between each table," Ashley Mason, manager of Mellow Mushroom in Aiken, said. "And for the safety of the community, I think it’s a little soon to have that many people in the building."

Since 1957, City Billiards in Aiken says it’s their ‘cheers’-style environment that’s kept the doors open.

"Financially, it’s a big struggle trying to keep a restaurant going, keep food in the process, and keep it all safe and secure by DHEC rules," Michael Allen, owner, said.

So he says shutting the doors -- wasn’t going to cut it any longer.

"It feels good to see people coming inside the restaurant, versus just coming and going, a lot of them are our friends," Allen said.

Right down the street - the folks at ‘What’s Cookin Downtown’ are a bit more skeptical.

"I think that there may be some repercussions. Hopefully not. Pray for the best, prepare for the worst," he said.

They’re taking an extra day to play it safe -- making the restaurant safe for the customers’ return.

Ultimately -- it’s up to each restaurant if they want to reopen.

And even with the doors open, it’s not business as usual, but at least it looks a bit more familiar.

Though McMaster gave a series of recommendations on how to safely reopen restaurants, those recommendations are just suggestions. He says he expects restaurants will use common sense, and that people will report any restaurants who aren’t being safe.

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