UPDATE: Conway City Council dropped this idea at its meeting this evening, saying the Governor's Stay at Home order issued this afternoon will take care of their concerns.
Conway City Council will discuss a stay-at-home ordinance during its Monday night meeting.
Some city officials expected Gov. Henry McMaster to order the state's residents to stay at home on Friday, but that didn't happen. So city officials are considering creating such a policy at the local level in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The virus has infected more than 2,000 people statewide and contributed to 44 deaths. Horry County has 64 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far and five deaths.
"We as a city have a lot of the same questions that the governor got from the media during that press conference," city spokeswoman Taylor Newell said. "We have to act in what's in the best interest for our residents now and the public health. … That's why we wanted to consider this."
Newell cautioned that the discussion doesn't mean the order will be approved, just that it will be discussed.
A draft of the ordinance being considered points out that South Carolina is one of the few states in the country without an order to stay at home or shelter in place. The governor has urged residents to stay at home, but some people aren't following that suggestion.
"There have been multiple reports of gatherings at private citizens’ homes, church services conducted, and other violations of the Governor’s Social Distancing guidelines," the draft ordinance states. "The Governor’s Orders do not give the City of Conway the ability to adequately address these gatherings or to limit groups of people in authorized businesses still remaining open."
If approved, the ordinance would go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Essentially it would require residents to stay in their homes and not travel except to work for or do business at essential businesses, such as grocery stores. The governor has already issued orders closing non-essential businesses.
Even the businesses that are allowed to operate would have to follow stricter policies under the city's proposed ordinance, including limiting the number of individuals in stores to ensure social distancing of at lest six feet. For businesses larger than 50,000 square feet, the policy would require no more than one customer per 1,000 square feet inside the store and it would limit the business to one public entrance. Shopping would only allow one-way pedestrian traffic on aisles.
Outdoor activities such as walking or running would be allowed if people follow the social distancing rules of six feet.
Violating the ordinance could carry a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail.
Concerns over COVID-19 have forced the city council to hold virtual meetings. Monday night's meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed at the city's website, cityofconway.com, under the “Latest News” tab at the bottom of the home page.
Check back for updates.